Peter Lewisch’s exonerating opinion on the investigation by the Economic and Corruption Public Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) against ex-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz causes discussions. The University of Vienna has distanced itself from the report prepared on behalf of the ÖVP party attorney, but provided with its logo. Ex-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) affirmed his innocence in a written message on Monday, referring to the Lewisch paper.
Kurz welcomed the fact that the National Council will decide this week (with the consent of the ÖVP) to lift its immunity – as requested by the WKStA because of its investigations into breach of trust and fraud in the advertising affair.
“I am happy if the WKStA’s investigations progress quickly, and I know that the matter will soon be clarified. The false allegations against me can be quickly refuted. I cannot judge what happened in the BMF in 2016, but I can One thing is clear: I have not been guilty of anything, as a legal opinion recently revealed, and I will prove that, “said Kurz in writing.
Uni logo on the report
This report had already caused disputes over the weekend. It was written by the Viennese criminal law professor Lewisch on behalf of ÖVP party lawyer Werner Suppan. Lewisch explains on 17 pages that the concrete suspicion against Kurz alleged by the public prosecutor’s office for corruption “can in no way be understood” – and accuses the investigators of “speculation and speculation”.
The private report is printed on paper with the logo of the University of Vienna. Lewisch works there as a professor at the Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology – and at the same time the lawyer works as Senior Counsel for the law firm “Cerha Hempel”, whose partner Edith Hlawati now heads the state holding company ÖBAG.
However, the University of Vienna did not want to be co-opted as an institution: Lewisch had confirmed that he had written the report as a professor. “It is a personal report, not one of the institution,” she clarified. Even if reports are drawn up from other disciplines (such as medicine), “it is never suggested that it could be an institutional statement,” said a statement on the website and on social media.
In any case, the use of a university logo on ordered private reports does not seem to be common: both the Linz criminal law professor Alois Birklbauer and the emeritus Viennese university professor Heinz Mayer emphasized on Monday in the Ö1 “Mittagsjournal” that such reports are never shown as official university reports to have. That would not be allowed at the Linz Kepler University, reported Birklbauer.
The two lawyers also complained about deficiencies in terms of content: The WKStA did not accuse Kurz of being unfaithful, but rather participating in such – that is, in acts of unfaithfulness by others. Lewisch said “nothing at all”, stated Mayer. Birklbauer pointed out that a complaint is the legally prescribed way if you do not agree with investigative measures, “not an expert opinion in which I criticize the public prosecutor” – especially since the house searches in the Chancellery, among others, had to be approved by a court.
ÖVP sees Kurz relieved, criticism of the SPÖ
There were lively arguments on Facebook and Twitter. Kurz supporters interpreted the report as an acquittal for Kurz, and critics were outraged about an attempt to wash it clean by means of a private report commissioned by the ÖVP as part of a ligitation PR campaign.
The political debate is similar: “It is made very clear that there is simply no concrete suspicion against Sebastian Kurz,” said on Sunday in a broadcast by the deputy. ÖVP club boss August Wöginger, who also came to the conclusion “that the WKStA has apparently once again worked extremely sloppily”.
Criminally relevant allegations are “to be decided in court, not by an expert”, countered the SPÖ Federal Managing Director Christian Deutsch – and spoke of an “attempt to briefly want to wash away the unbelievable political scandals”.
“The only thing that the ÖVP is concerned about at the moment is the comeback of former Chancellor Kurz”, criticized SPÖ finance spokesman Jan Krainer in a press conference on Monday – and called on the ÖVP to finally give in, so that the U-Committee on possible corruption in theirs Ranks can be launched this week.
Rumors of comeback
“While the country is sinking more and more into the corona chaos due to the failure of the ÖVP and its sovereigns, the chairman of this party is busy with himself and with it, as he does with lazy tricks, insidious intrigues and possibly crooked machinations again could manage to return to power, finally to be allowed to call himself Federal Chancellor again, “said FPÖ General Secretary Michael Schnedlitz commented on the matter.
In some media too, the attempt to exonerate the report was seen as a sign that Kurz, who had largely disappeared from the public eye since his resignation on October 11, is now tackling the comeback. This was nourished by the fact that the current club chairman visited ÖVP national organizations last week. (Apa)