Austrian center-right People's Party again denies connection to Ibiza scandal

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-15 23:01:03|Editor: yan
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VIENNA, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- The Austrian center-right People's Party (OVP) has vehemently denied new suggestions it shredded computer hard drives containing matter relating to a corruption scandal that brought its own coalition government down in May.

Local media had initially reported on the shredding of multiple hard drives by the social media manager of OVP leader and former chancellor Sebastian Kurz, less than a week after the so-called "Ibiza affair" came to light.

The 25-year-old had taken the hard drives to a company to have them shredded, and also provided a false name, reports from both Austrian and German media claimed at the time.

On Wednesday, Minister of Justice Clemens Jabloner responded to a question in parliament, confirming that the Central Office for Prosecuting Economic Crimes and Corruption (WKStA) considers a link between the shredding of the hard drives and the Ibiza affair as a possibility.

In addition he said the former chancellery employee is the sole subject of a current investigation into the matter.

In response the OVP expressed outrage on Thursday, referring to a "smear campaign" and telling the Austria Press Agency it had "nothing to do" with the corruption scandal, and would take legal action against anybody claiming otherwise.

The party including Kurz had previously already denied the hard drives contained anything incriminating, and said they were only printer hard drives.

FPO secretary-general Harald Vilimsky said the OVP stance is not good enough, however, and if the WKStA suspects a link between the shredding and the Ibiza scandal, the party is obligated to cooperate in order to "find a resolution as soon as possible", the Krone newspaper reported.

The Ibiza affair came to light in May, in the form of video footage recorded on the Spanish island in 2017, showing former vice-chancellor and FPO party leader Heinz-Christian Strache purportedly offering government contracts in exchange for political favor.

The aftermath of the scandal brought down the coalition government with the OVP, replaced in the interim by a caretaker cabinet until a snap election to be held on Sept. 29.