Austria’s Strache guilty of bribery, given suspended prison term

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27 August 2021, Austria, Vienna: Heinz-Christian Strache, former Vice-Chancellor of Austria, arrives for a hearing at the Vienna Regional Court where he stands trial over charges of corruption in the course of the Ibiza Affair. Photo: Georg Hochmuth/APA/dpa
27 August 2021, Austria, Vienna: Heinz-Christian Strache, former Vice-Chancellor of Austria, arrives for a hearing at the Vienna Regional Court where he stands trial over charges of corruption in the course of the Ibiza Affair. Photo: Georg Hochmuth/APA/dpa

Austria’s former vice chancellor and far-right politician Heinz-Christian Strache was found guilty of bribery and given a suspended prison term of 15 months on Friday.

The verdict by the regional court in Vienna, which is not yet legally binding, came at the close of a corruption trial that began in July.

The case revolved around a donation of 10,000 euros (11,760 dollars) to Strache’s far-right Freedom Party by the operator of a private health clinic in Vienna. At the time Strache was party chairman.

The clinic’s operator, a friend of Strache, is charged with bribery but both men reject the allegations.

The Austrian public prosecutor argued the donation was an attempt to buy a change in the law in order to allow the clinic’s operator to charge medical treatment costs directly to the Austrian public health insurance fund. The clinic got access to the funds in 2018.

Strache, who denied any wrongdoing, could have been sentenced to up to five years in prison.

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