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Arrests over video that brought down Austrian government

November 20, 2019

Prosecutors have arrested three people in connection with a video that caused the collapse of the Austrian government earlier this year. Authorities made the arrests and searched properties on Tuesday.

Heinz-Christian Strache addresses media in May
Image: Reuters/L. Foeger

Austrian prosecutors have arrested three people in connection with a video that brought down the Austrian government earlier this year, according to local reports.

Prosecutor Thomas Vecsey told the Associated Press on Wednesday that authorities made the arrests and searched properties on Tuesday, but declined to provide further details.

Prosecutors will decide whether to pursue action against the trio by Thursday, according to the Austrian newspaper Wiener Zeitung.

Read more: Sebastian Kurz: Austria's once and likely future chancellor

The video, published in May 2019, appeared to show then-vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache offering favors to a woman posing as a Russian investor, in return for positive media coverage of his party.

Still from the video showing Strache in Ibiza
Still from the video showing Strache in IbizaImage: Reuters/Der Spiegel und Süddeutsche Zeitung

Strache and Johann Gudenus, respectively leader and deputy leader of the far-right Freedom Party, also appeared to discuss corrupt political practices involving donors in the video. The Freedom Party was the junior party in a governing coalition at the time.

Dubbed the "Ibiza Affair" because of the Spanish island where the footage was filmed, the video led to the collapse of Austria's coalition government. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called a snap election, which took place in September, and Strache has since resigned from politics.

After winning the most seats but with no clear majority, Kurz and his right-wing Austrian People's Party remain in coalition talks with other parties.

It is unclear who the suspects are nor what their exact charge is.

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Kommentarbild PROVISORISCH Elliot Douglas
Elliot Douglas Elliot Douglas is a video, audio and online journalist based in Berlin.