Cell phone seized by the chief prosecutor
Posted On March 15, 2021
The head of the Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office, Johann Fuchs, had to hand over his cell phone. This is reported by the “Kleine Zeitung”, citing the competent Innsbruck Public Prosecutor’s Office. Fuchs, who was regarded as the shop steward of the suspended section head Christian Pilnacek and, like the latter, has had a long conflict with the business and corruption prosecutor, is to be investigated for violating the classified information ordinance.
NEOS and FPÖ had previously called for Fuchs to be suspended. The reason for this are his statements in the Ibiza committee of inquiry to inform government members about house searches of ministers. These are also said to have played a role in the confiscation of the cell phone, writes the “little one”. In his questioning in the committee last week, when asked by NEOS parliamentary group leader Stephanie Krisper, Fuchs had confirmed that she would inform the justice department about “planned coercive measures”.
According to the preliminary protocol of his survey, Fuchs argued that the time factor of communication is essential, especially in “clamorous cases”. It is therefore also important that the head of the department – meaning the Ministry of Justice – “has an overview of these procedural steps very quickly”. The leaders there are “approached sooner or later about the fact that the judiciary is carrying out a search, and in my opinion it is already too late”. After all, both members of the government sit together in the Council of Ministers, so Fuchs.
According to his testimony in the investigation committee, Fuchs had emphasized to the APA that he only meant the justice department that was being informed. In addition, he did not mean that this should be informed in advance. The NEOS interpret the statement differently, especially since the OStA head was clearly asked about “planned measures”. “Fuchs did not want to deny a modus operandi that is repeatedly unacceptable,” said parliamentary group leader Krisper in a broadcast on Monday.
For this reason, the NEOS are now calling for Fuchs to be suspended, because “this action carries the inherent risk that coercive measures, such as house searches, will be betrayed in advance in the political environment”. Specifically, the opposition party is also concerned with possible agreements with section head Christian Pilnacek, for example in the case of ÖBAG head Thomas Schmid.
The chairman of the FPÖ parliamentary group in the Ibiza committee of inquiry, Christian Hafenecker, also renewed his demand on Justice Minister Werner Kogler (Greens) to draw legal consequences against the head of the Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office. “From my point of view, a temporary suspension, as it has also happened with Pilnacek, is unavoidable,” he wrote in a broadcast. Pilnacek and Fuchs are namely “communicating vessels”.
The ÖVP reacts indignantly. “Exactly those who always bring about a political influence on the judiciary are now digging into their work with personnel demands,” said Wolfgang Gerstl, parliamentary group leader in the U-Committee, in a broadcast.