Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) announced on Wednesday in the ÖVP’s corruption inquiry commission – as previously reported by krone.at – that she wanted to launch a “Justice 2030” reform program by the summer. Since taking office, she has made drastic changes in supervision, in particular at the Public Prosecution Service for Economic Affairs and Corruption (WKStA), she emphasizes in her opening speech. “The chats and the events of the past have severely tested our image of the judiciary,” Zadic emphasized.
Many were “repulsed and at the same time restless”. A moral image and concept of office had emerged that many people in the judiciary did not want to follow. “I started correcting the mistakes of the past as soon as I started,” she emphasized.
Supervision of the Public Prosecution Service “renewed on track”
In particular, the supervision of the prosecutor’s office of the Ministry of Justice has given them a completely new look. The head of the senior public prosecutor’s office in Vienna is no longer responsible for the technical and service oversight of the WKStA. You will be told that the guidance and collaboration is now “working very well and is now professional”. With the program now announced, the judiciary should be “modern, inclusive and further strengthened in its independence”.
The minister emphasized that the conflict between the WKStA and other authorities had various causes than during questioning by the examining magistrate – also in previous proceedings that have nothing to do with the current subject of the investigation. These disruptions are said to have led to a “deep loss of confidence”.
ÖVP man questioned the Green Minister sharply
The ÖVP deputy Christian Stocker wanted to know whether there had been political influence on the investigations or not. After some back and forth, in which the examining magistrate also became involved, he had to formulate his question more precisely. “Nobody has tried to influence the procedures in my case, I can’t tell you more about that,” was the final answer from the Minister of Justice. The not too prudish scope of Stocker with the Green Minister did not go unnoticed by the other groups. Questions about the state of the turquoise-green coalition were therefore unnecessary, says Julia Herr (SPÖ).
In the end, Zadic had little to contribute, but the Minister of Justice had already been questioned twice in the Ibiza inquiry committee. Asked about chats about the alleged surveillance of corruption prosecutors, she said only a few times, “I don’t read the chats.” Asked about possible agreements between the minister and U-Committee chairman Wolfgang Sobotka (ÖVP), she emphasized that it only concerned the processing of file submissions. But she also mentioned the issue of Sobotka’s possible bias.
WKStA boss: This influence not thought possible
The topic of conflicts between different investigative authorities continued in the afternoon in the U-committee when WKStA head Ilse-Maria Vrabl-Sanda was questioned. She too had already testified in the Ibiza inquiry committee.
Vrabl-Sanda also used the inquiry committee to argue for improvements in the judiciary. “I think we should take the opportunity to close this inglorious chapter to learn from it,” she said, addressing alleged political influence over investigations or the allegedly planned oversight of investigators. Aggravations of the investigation “for purposes outside criminal law” have been noted. An influence she says she would not have thought possible at the start of her professional career.
Vrabl-Sanda denied that there may have been any leakage of files from her prosecutor’s office.
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