Austria: Ex-vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache facing corruption trial

Austrian right-wing politician Heinz-Christian Strache is set to go on trial on corruption charges.

The case relates to the "Ibizagate" scandal, which brought an end to a conservative-led coalition and to his stint as vice-chancellor in 2019, the BBC reports.

It originated in a video sting that showed Mr Strache speaking to a woman claiming to be a wealthy Russian.

He appeared to hint at potentially illegal donations to the far-right Freedom Party, which he then led.

He has denied wrongdoing, attributing what he said in the video to intoxication.

But the revelation opened the way for a number of corruption investigations, after mobile phones belonging to Mr Strache and other politicians were seized.

In the current case, Mr Strache is accused of offering to change a law to help a donor to his party secure public funding for his private hospital. He could face a five-year prison sentence if convicted.

The video, filmed secretly shortly before Austria's election in 2017, was published two years later by German publications.

It shows Mr Strache and another Freedom Party politician drinking and talking to the woman - reportedly at a villa on the Spanish island of Ibiza.

The scandal triggered the collapse of the Austrian coalition led by the conservative People's Party (ÖVP) of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Mr Kurz returned to power in 2020 in a coalition with the Greens.

Image: Door Gregor Tatschl from Österreich - Heinz-Christian Strache (_IMG6709), CC BY-SA 2.0,

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