Facing probe, Austria’s Kurz sees his image dented

Vienna: Once hailed as a "wunderkind", Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has seen his carefully built image dented amid coronavirus fatigue and an investigation into whether he lied to a parliamentary committee on corruption.

It should have been a good month for the 34-year-old conservative -- who became the world’s youngest democratically elected leader when he first took office in 2017 -- with the lengthy virus lockdown easing.

But prosecutors announced on Wednesday that they are investigating Kurz for giving false testimony to a committee of lawmakers probing the "Ibizagate" scandal and other graft allegations.

If charged, Kurz would be the first chancellor to have to face court while in office in the small Alpine EU member of some nine million people.

Kurz himself has dismissed the allegations, saying he expects to be charged but not to be found guilty and that he is refusing to step down, slamming what he says are efforts to unseat him.

"I have said nothing that is not truthful," Kurz told a selected group of Austrian media outlets on Thursday. - AFP