As the “Kurier” reports, in the course of the announced creation of a federal prosecutor, the Chancellor Party also wants to rebuild and split up the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor (WKStA), which it recently heavily criticized. At the request of the APA, the Chancellery only said that there were ongoing discussions with the Greens. The opposition was already heavily criticizing the rumored plans.
According to “Kurier”, a draft for a ministerial lecture by the ÖVP provides that the planned federal prosecutor should be above the four senior public prosecutor’s offices that already exist in the districts of the higher regional courts (OLG) in Vienna, Graz, Linz and Innsbruck. Among them there should be “specialized public prosecutor’s offices”, which should be set up at the OLG districts and be responsible for cyber crime, corruption, terrorism and white-collar crime, for example. This would move the WKStA, which consists of a headquarters in Vienna with three branch offices, to the four specialized public prosecutor’s offices.
Since international treaties provide for an authority to punish corruption, it should not be possible to break up the WKStA. According to “Kurier”, however, the economic criminal cases could be withdrawn from the WKStA and divided between the four special authorities. The WKStA would thus be returned to its origins: in 2009 it was founded as the Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (KStA), and the business agendas were added in 2011.
From the Chancellery, it was said that there was still no Ministerial Council lecture, but ongoing discussions with the Green coalition partner. Without going into the plans regarding the WKStA, a spokesman for Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) only referred to the three points already mentioned by Constitutional Minister Karoline Edtstadler (ÖVP): strengthening the judge and the legal protection officer in the proceedings, accelerating the proceedings and taking over the defense and legal fees if the proceedings are closed.
Sharp criticism of the rumored ÖVP plans came immediately from the opposition. “ The anti-corruption hunters are apparently so close on the heels of the close confidante Gernot Blümel that the ÖVP is now reaching to extremes and trying to smash the business and corruption public prosecutor’s office. Here a clear picture emerges: Whoever becomes dangerous to the ÖVP becomes first defamed, then attacked with a turquoise sledgehammer and finally threatened with dissolution, “said SPÖ federal manager Christian Deutsch in a broadcast. Deutsch spoke of the ÖVP’s “increasingly brutal attacks” on the judiciary, which were “extremely dangerous and endangering democracy”. The SPÖ federal manager called on the ÖVP: “Hands off the independent judiciary.”
For NEOS, with the ÖVP plans that have now become known, it is clear that their swing to an independent federal prosecutor was at most just a diversionary maneuver. Vice-club boss Nikolaus Scherak suspected in a press conference that the Chancellor’s party not only wanted to smash the WKStA, but also the entire criminal prosecution system and, according to their ideas, wanted to rebuild it.
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