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Austrian election investigation into abuse of office continues

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Austrian election investigation into abuse of office continues
The FPÖ challenged the election after candidate Nobert Hofer lost by 0.6% of the vote. Photo: FPÖ
12:09 CEST+02:00
Corruption investigators in Austria have been given the go ahead to begin investigating two politicians from Austria’s far-right Freedom Party regarding irregularities in the recent presidential election.

The local parliament in Carinthia voted unanimously to cancel the political immunity of Harald Trettenbrein and Roland Zellot, allowing the Finance and Corruption Prosecutors to include them in their investigation.

It is part of a much larger investigation into dozens of district authorities and election officials concerning possible abuses of office.

The Interior Minister reported the incidences to state prosecutors after a Constitutional Court hearing decided earlier in July that the May 22nd presidential election must be re-run due to irregularities in the vote counting.

Trettenbrein and Zellot have been included as they acted as election observers in districts authorities being investigated for abuses of office and wrongly registering votes.

Zellot was the observer in the city of Villach and Trettenbrein in Wolfsberg, both districts that were found by the Constitutional Court to have made errors in the vote counting.

It follows the earlier news that the mayor of Villach, Günther Albel from the Social Democrats (SPÖ), is also being investigated for potential abuse of office. Albel admitted during the hearing into the election that he allowed votes to be counted too early.

In total, the prosecutors are looking into observers from twenty districts in several different states, although exactly how many people - or who - will be investigated is not yet known, a spokesperson confirmed to the Kurier.

Investigators will look at the fact that votes were counted too early and that observers wrongly indicated on documents they were counted at the correct time. 

The presidential election run-off in May was won by the independent but Green-backed candidate Alexander van der Bellen, who beat his rival Nobert Hofer from the Freedom Party by just 0.6% of the vote.

Following accusations of irregularities in the voting, the Freedom Party launched a challenge to the election result, a challenge that was upheld by the Constitutional Court in July.

The second presidential election run-off will be held on October 2nd.

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