Failed in court – ÖVP is not allowed to screen e-mails from the WKStA

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The Constitutional Court (VfGH) has partially rejected a request from the ÖVP to release emails from the Public Prosecution Service for Economic Affairs and Corruption (WKStA) to the University Committee as inadmissible. Further requests from the People’s Party and Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) were also rejected. They essentially revolved around the statements of former Secretary General of the Treasury Thomas Schmid and the presentation of more of his chats.

The ÖVP wanted the minister to collect and submit to the U-committee on ÖVP- corruption. The majority of the committee rejected this and included parts of the demand in a separate application.

This was sufficient for the Supreme Court to declare the relevant part of the application inadmissible. Reason: no more discussion about this. The rest of the application had already been rejected once before and since there had been no significant changes in this regard since then it had to be rejected.

Schmid chats can be “abstractly relevant”.
In another application, representatives of the ÖVP wanted to ensure that chats between Schmid and people with a close relationship with the SPÖ or FPÖ were sent to the committee. Justice Minister Zadic had rejected that. It was not clear to her to what extent these chats are actually relevant to the work of the committee. The Constitutional Court does not entirely agree with the minister on this point. It cannot be completely excluded that “due to special constellations, the communication of persons not affiliated with the ÖVP may also have a (potentially) abstract relevance to the object of the investigation”, according to the court. However, the ÖVP MPs should have further substantiated their request and the request was therefore rejected.

Zadic in turn had called in the VfGH, which had to clarify on which topics Thomas Schmid could be questioned in the subcommittee. It was feared that questions about topics beyond the questioning at the WKStA would jeopardize further investigation. The ÖVP had not previously agreed to a restriction to certain subject areas.

Application rejected by Zadic
In concrete terms, Zadic had requested the Constitutional Court to rule that in this case a so-called consultation agreement must be concluded between the Ministry of Justice and the factions in the University Committee. Zadic’s request was rejected by the Constitutional Court because no disagreement had arisen. This would require the U-committee to make a formal, explicit decision requiring a consultation agreement or challenging a particular interpretation of an existing agreement.

During the further consultation process, the University Committee may not take any measures that could influence the activities of the criminal prosecution authorities. This suspension ends as soon as the U-committee has taken a decision on the necessity or on the interpretation of a consultation agreement, but no later than three months after the start of the consultation process.

Source: Krone

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