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Offices of Austrian Chancellor Kurz’s party raided in Vienna

Austria's ruling People's Party (OeVP) said it had been targeted by raids from prosecutors on Wednesday morning, with local media reporting that offices in the chancellery were among those searched.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz walks through the rain holding an umbrella.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his party have had their offices raided. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

Cellphones and documents were confiscated in the raids, which Austrian media reported was connected to ongoing corruption allegations. 

Deputy OeVP general secretary Gaby Schwarz confirmed the prosecutors’ actions but did not confirm who was being investigated, saying only that raids were “for show” and that “accusations were constructed over events that date back as far as five years”.

According to Die Presse newspaper, raids also took place in the chancellery and targeted several employees of OeVP Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

The newspaper reported that the raids related to possible corruption offences in the publication of adverts and opinion polls in the Oesterreich daily.

Kurz himself is allegedly suspected of being an accessory to the offences, it added.

OeVP Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel said there had been a raid at his ministry but said it did not concern him personally or his time in office.

Kurz began his second term as chancellor in January 2020 at the head of a coalition with the Green party.

His previous government, a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), fell apart in May 2019 over the so-called “Ibiza-gate” corruption scandal.

After ex-FPOe chief Heinz-Christian Strache was caught on camera appearing to offer public contracts in exchange for campaign help for the FPOe, investigators launched several sprawling investigations into alleged corruption in Austrian politics.

Some of these have targeted high-ranking OeVP figures, including Bluemel. Kurz himself is under investigation on suspicion of making false statements to a parliamentary committee on corruption, though he has not been charged.

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

‘Decomposing smell’: Austrian police called due to smelly shoes

Austria's police department said they were called to an apartment complex in Vienna after a person was concerned about a "smell of decomposition".

'Decomposing smell': Austrian police called due to smelly shoes

This week, the Viennese police department started a weekly ‘series’ of sharing interesting stories on their social media accounts

Calling the series ‘Misunderstanding Wednesday’ (Missverständnismittwoch), the very first post is about a call they received to an apartment complex after a concerned citizen complained to emergency services about a “smell of decomposition in the staircase”.

READ ALSO: Stephansdom: Vienna woken up after hacker sets church bells to ring at 2am

The alleged corpse, it turns out, was just the neighbour’s smelly shoes which were left in the building corridor, in front of their apartment.

The police didn’t say when exactly the incident took place.

“When our colleagues are called because of the ‘smell of decomposition in the staircase’… and notice that the stunk is from the neighbour’s shoes which were left in front of the apartment door”, the official Twitter account of the Vienna police department reads.

‘When in doubt it is an emergency’

The authorities were light-hearted about the misunderstanding, even sharing a “meme-like” picture on their social media accounts, saying “some missions turn out to be different than initially assumed”.

READ ALSO: Austrian police warn public about new ‘fake cops’ scam

However, they reiterated that the misunderstandings should not deter people from calling 133, the emergency police number. They added that in case of emergencies and even if you are not sure, the authorities should be called and they will assist you.

“Note: in case of doubt, it is an emergency”, the Vienna police department says. “Never be afraid to dial the emergency number.”

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