Austria’s Kurz under investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors

The chancellor is facing accusations that he lied to a parliamentary committee investigating cronyism.

Austria’s Kurz under investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is under investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors over allegations that he lied to a parliamentary commission probing the so-called Ibiza scandal and its fallout.

Kurz confirmed in a press conference Wednesday that prosecutors had informed him and his chief of staff Bernhard Bonelli that they were suspected of providing false testimony. He denied any wrongdoing and criticized the commission.

“It’s a pity … that it has become a common method in the commission to create a heated atmosphere with leading questions and sometimes even insinuations, and then at the same time to try to twist every word in your mouth,” Kurz said.

The parliamentary commission was set up in the aftermath of the Ibiza affair, which brought down Kurz’s coalition with the Austrian far-right Freedom Party in 2019. It has since expanded from looking into the scandal itself to investigate wider allegations of cronyism under that government. (Kurz is now head of a new coalition between his conservatives and the Austrian Greens.)

Among other issues, the commission looked into the appointment of a Kurz loyalist as CEO of state holding company ÖBAG. Kurz said he had not been involved, but the commission obtained text messages that suggested otherwise, local media reported.

The liberal opposition party Neos subsequently filed a complaint, prompting Austria’s Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office to launch the investigation.

Kurz insisted he had done nothing wrong. “I would like to point out that I have always spent hours in the committee trying to answer all questions as truthfully as possible — despite the fact that these are issues that go back many years and have not exactly been among the main topics of my own activity as head of government,” he said at Wednesday’s press conference.

The investigation comes as Kurz is increasingly facing questions over a plethora of political scandals and concern over pressure on Austria’s democratic institutions, including the press, under his tenure.

Asked if he would step down if he was found guilty, Kurz said he “cannot imagine that with the best will in the world.” Providing false testimony to a parliamentary commission can be punished with up to three years in prison in Austria.

Source : Politico EU More   

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Hair today, gone tomorrow: Pablo Iglesias cuts off ponytail

Former Podemos leader gets breakup haircut after leaving politics.

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Pablo Iglesias cuts off ponytail

Spain’s ex-Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias has cut his ties to politics — and his trademark ponytail.

Iglesias quit the left-wing Unidas Podemos party he had helped establish after a conservative candidate won the Madrid regional election on May 4, and like with every tough breakup, this called for a change in look.

Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia on Wednesday published images showing Iglesias, who had resigned his role as deputy PM in March to run in the Madrid election, with short hair.

According to La Vanguardia, the possibility of Iglesias cutting his hair had been discussed within Podemos around elections in 2014 and 2015, and again when he entered government. However, by then his ponytail had become iconic and Iglesias chose to keep it.

Source : Politico EU More   

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