Following the revelations of recent years about the turquoise/black/blue previous governments, Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) testified before the ÖVP inquiry committee on Wednesday. The current prosecutor finds the well-known chat logs “repulsive” and explained to the “Krone” before her appearance on the committee how she would like to ensure an “independent judiciary” in the future.
The dispute between various investigative authorities will be continued on Wednesday in the ÖVP investigation committee. Justice Minister Zadic and the head of the Public Prosecution Service for Economic Affairs and Corruption (WKStA), Ilse-Maria Vrabl-Sanda, have been invited as prominent sources of information. One of Zadic’s predecessors in office, former Supreme Court Justice Wolfgang Brandstetter, and former Interior Minister Eckart Ratz were invited on Thursday – krone.at reports as always up-to-date.
Even before her statement on Wednesday, the Minister of Justice turned to the “Krone”. The revelations of several chats and incidents “repulse and disturb many people inside and outside the judiciary”. Above all, the minister fears that the image of an independent judiciary in Austria is permanently distorted. The judiciary actually works “in certain areas” independently and uninfluenced.
Control authorities in sight
Zadic now wants to correct the “mistakes of the past”. The minister is thinking in particular of the so-called higher authorities that supervise the WKStA. At the Ministry of Justice, on the one hand, conflicts of interest were resolved by the division of the section “predominance of criminal law”, on the other hand, the “senior prosecutor involved in the chats” is no longer responsible for the WKStA. Those changes in the hierarchy are already bearing fruit, says the minister.
Project Justice 2030”
However, Zadic puts a special focus on his “Justice 2030” program. In a first step, “what is needed to ensure that the independence and immunity from influence of the judiciary can also be strengthened and structurally secured in the future” will be considered. The focus should also be on regulations “apart from criminal law and service law” – such as filling posts, which had repeatedly caused scandals …
“On course for summer”
Why is the whole thing apparently planned for 2030? The name of the project is “Justice 2030” – but this does not mean that nothing will be done until then, the ministry emphasizes. “We want to have the program on track before the summer.” The ministry’s supervision of the Public Prosecution Service has already received “completely new impetus” in terms of personnel and organisation.
Monitoring plans leaked
Or Zadic as well as WKStA boss Vrabl-Sanda had already testified to the Ibizan inquiry — and on the same subject: the tensions between the WKStA and the suspended department head Christian Pilnacek and the head of Vienna’s public prosecutor’s office, Johann Fuchs. However, much has happened in the legal dispute since then. For example, information has come out that Pilnacek and Fuchs wanted corruption prosecutors under surveillance. It was not only at the WKStA that the plans – ultimately not carried out – were horrified.
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