Haider ally compares Austrian papers with Nazis

Former allies of late right-wing spearhead Jörg Haider have launched an unprecedented attack on Austrian media over their coverage of alleged secret bank accounts.News weekly profil claimed on the weekend that ex-Freedom Party (FPÖ) boss Haider stashed around 45 million Euros in more than 40 different accounts in the principality bordering Austria.The magazine wrote that Austrian, German and Liechtenstein investigators had discovered the accounts as they examined corruption and embezzlement claims concerning the sale of Carinthian Hypo Group Alpe Adria (HGAA) bank. Haider, who died in a boozy car crash around two years ago, was governor of Carinthia for many years.HGAA was snapped up by Germany’s BayernLB (Bayerische Landesbank) in 2007. The Austrian government saw itself pressed to nationalise HGAA last year to avoid its collapse over soaring debts.An increasing number of FPÖ officials and representatives of the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), the party founded by Haider in 2005, expressed doubts over the existence of accounts in Liechtenstein after prosecutors in the principality denied such discoveries.BZÖ Styria chief Gerald Grosz now caused outrage among journalists by comparing Austrian media to infamous Third Reich newspaper “Der Stürmer”. Grosz also said some newspapers, TV stations and magazines would “hunt Haider as the Nazis hunted Jewish people in the Third Reich”.He said: “Journalists who spread dirty lies despite knowing they are wrong aren’t a jot better than Nazi era propaganda masterminds. Some newsrooms apparently are utterly mad.”The Union of Austrian Newspapers (VÖZ) reacted by calling on the BZÖ MP to step down today (Thurs).Grosz claimed more and more accusations have turned out to be incorrect over the past few days, while former Haider spokesman Stefan Petzner said the whole issue was “nothing but a campaign by left-wing prosecutors and investigators and a bid to posthumously damage Haider’s excellent reputation.”Uwe Scheuch, head of the Carinthian Freedom Party (FPK), demanded an apology from “scandal-producing journalists”, while other former political partners of Haider said the whole story was nothing but an attempt to create strong headlines and fill the pages during the summer season.Meanwhile, former Constitutional Court (VfGH) head Karl Korinek warned people would lose their trust in officials and the law due to “too long” procedures over possible business scandals. Korinek claimed today Austria’s justice sector had too few and badly paid employees.Former Federal Audit Office (RH) boss Franz Fiedler criticised there has been too little progress with investigations if high-profile businessmen or political decision-makers were suspected of malpractices.People’s Party (ÖVP) Justice Minister Claudia Bandion-Ortner said in a first reaction: “I’ve had enough of the permanent attacks. That has to end.”Bandion-Ortner has come under fire over the past few months as public prosecutors and judges warned they would soon be incapable to handling a soaring number of cases while staff figures dwindle. The minister – a former judge – agreed to meet for talks later this year after unionists threatened with strikes.Speculations over where the allegedly discovered money could come from meanwhile continue.Some reports suggest the sums could be donations from the families of Muammar al-Gaddafi and late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.Haider – a close friend of the Libyan leader’s son Saif al-Gaddafi – met both politicians several times. He claimed that his visits to the countries helped Carinthian companies to several lucrative deals.A report by Austrian radio station Ö1 earlier this week however had it that not a single joint venture or assignment could be linked with certainty to Haider’s controversial trips.