Heinz-Christian Strache insisted on his complete innocence. His defense lawyer has asked for an acquittal of the defendant.
Former Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 15 months of suspended imprisonment, announced Judge Claudia Moravec-Loidolt in Vienna on Friday, August 27. According to her, the former head of the right-wing populist Austrian Freedom Party (APS) was guilty of accepting a party donation from the private Wahring clinic, for which he gave it benefits.
Walter Grubmuller, the owner of a clinic specializing in cosmetic surgery, was sentenced in the same case to 12 months suspended imprisonment for bribery. According to the court, the “chronology of events” leaves no doubt about the existence of signs of corruption. It is impossible to believe that the politician did not know about the donation given to his party, the judge stressed.
Strache insisted on his complete innocence. His defense attorney, as well as Grubmuhler’s attorney, moved for the acquittal of the defendants.
The case against Strache is linked to the high-profile “Ibizagate” scandal, which broke in May 2019 and caused a powerful political backlash in Austria. A video made by a hidden camera at a villa on the Spanish island of Ibiza went viral. It shows Strache on the eve of parliamentary elections in Austria in 2017, promising the alleged “niece of the Russian oligarch” state contracts in exchange for support for his campaign.
As part of the investigation, police confiscated Strache’s cell phone. A study of text messages stored on the phone led to other charges against the former APS head, including receiving a party donation in exchange for favors.