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Austrian ex-chancellor Kurz charged with giving false testimony -prosecutors


BERLIN (Reuters) -Former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz has been charged with giving false testimony before parliament, the Austrian prosecutor’s office for economic crimes and corruption said on Friday.

The conservative politician and his former chief of staff, Bernhard Bonelli, are accused of giving false testimony before the Ibiza committee of inquiry in the Austrian parliament “regarding the alleged corruptibility of his government,” the office said in a statement.

Commenting before the indictment was announced, Kurz denied the accusations, saying on social media platform X: “We look forward to the truth finally coming to light and the accusations turning out to be groundless.”

His trial will begin on Oct. 18 and if found guilty, Kurz – former leader of the conservative People’s Party – could face up to three years in prison, a Vienna court said in a statement.

The case centres on the question of whether Kurz answered truthfully in parliamentary committee hearings in 2020 and 2021 when asked about appointments to state holding company OBAG.

Kurz left office in 2021 after prosecutors placed him and nine others under investigation on suspicion of breach of trust, corruption and bribery with various levels of involvement.

In 2019, Kurz’s vice chancellor, former far-right leader Heinz-Christian Strache, quit over a video of him in Ibiza with a woman posing as a Russian oligarch’s niece, apparently offering to fix state contracts and explaining how to dodge party financing laws.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer weighed in on the case on Friday ahead of the indictment’s release, saying, “If this is the case, then we finally have the opportunity … to strive for and achieve clarification.”

Since leaving office, Kurz has been working as a global strategist for tech investor Thiel Capital.

(Writing by Friederike Heine;Editing by Miranda Murray and Conor Humphries)

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