Austria′s Haider was Drunk During Fatal Car Crash | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 15.10.2008
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Austria's Haider was Drunk During Fatal Car Crash

Austrian far-right politician Joerg Haider was more than three times over the legal alcohol limit when he crashed his car and was killed at the weekend, his party said Wednesday.

Candles and a photograph of Austrian politician Joerg Haider

Haider's death has sparked shock and grief in Austria

Haider was driving at 142 kilometers per hour, more than double the speed limit, when his car veered off the road and flipped over in Klagenfurt, the capital of the Carinthia province where he was governor.

Forensic experts have determined that at the time of the accident, Haider's blood alcohol level was 1.8 pro mille (1.8 milligrams per milliliter of blood, or 0.18 per cent) almost four times the legal limit of 0.5 pro mille.

Stefan Petzner, new leader of Haider's Alliance for Austria's Future

Petzner confirmed that Haider was drunk at the wheel

"It is correct that...Joerg Haider was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. I can, and must, confirm that," said Stefan Petzner, the new, 27-year-old leader of Haider's Alliance for Austria's Future party.

He later confirmed media reports that the amount of alcohol in Haider's blood was nearly four times the legal limit.

Before the crash that occurred at 1:15 local time, Haider and Petzner, had spent the evening at a party to celebrate the launching of a new magazine.

Petzner asked the media "to press the stop button here and now and to conclude the coverage of the accident" out of respect for Haider's family.

Media have reported that conspiracy theories that the car had been tampered with were circulating in Carinthia, where Haider's party won 43 per cent of the vote in the 2004 provincial elections.

A forensic expert who examined the car has ruled out such theories.

In Carinthia, Haider was well-liked for his social policies, but he was a divisive figure on the national level because of his staunch anti-foreigner stance and remarks that trivialized Hitler's national socialist regime.

Since last Saturday, thousands of local citizens have placed candles and flowers outside the governor's office and at the accident site.

Haider's Alliance won 11 per cent in parliamentary elections in late September.

A large public memorial service is set to take place Saturday in the centre of Klagenfurt. Politicians of the anti-immigrant Italian party Northern League have said they would attend.

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