The opposition sees Lang as an ally of a network in the judiciary around the suspended ex-judicial section chief Christian Pilnacek. She assigns him to the “Hallein connection” to ex-“SoKo Tape” leader Andreas Holzer (Lang’s successor as head of the BK) and Franz Ruf, general director for public safety – a black network is suspected. Background: All top police officers worked in Hallein in the early days of their careers. Lang cleared up the term “Hallein Connection” right at the beginning (“insinuation”, “humbug”).
The surveys then soon focused on conflicts between the SoKo and the WKStA. Since various chats became known, the accusation has been raised that the WKStA should not play a major role in the “Ibiza” investigations from the outset. However, he did not try to exclude the WKStA. But: “It was our wish that the investigations should be concentrated on one public prosecutor’s office”, historically, one had “very bad experiences” with two public prosecutors’ offices.
Lang stated that they did not explicitly want a specific prosecutor. The fact that two public prosecutor’s offices were used was “very regrettable”. At the beginning one had to assume that the politicians involved were being blackmailed and that secret services were involved. The judiciary had to clarify what criminal conclusions had to be drawn from the “drunk meeting on a party island”.
“I imagine Observation”
Of course, the topic was chats: Lang also appeared in a conversation in which Pilnacek was considering observing a WKStA public prosecutor. Pilnacek and the head of the senior public prosecutor (OStA) Vienna, Johann Fuchs, suspected – as can be read from the chats – that the WKStA had passed on details to the media. Thus Pilnacek wrote to Fuchs: “So bad; you can’t put up with that; I’ll speak to Lang tomorrow; I imagine Observation; hG”. Lang could not provide any details. According to Lang, he has no idea why Fuchs specifically suspected a WKStA public prosecutor.
“Keep the stable clean”
“It is a permanent condition in Austria that some parts of the file go out,” said Lang in general – he always tried to “keep the stable clean”. One had “always had moles” and always managed to “neutralize” them. Pilnacek had often asked how one “defuses so-called internal perpetrators”, which impressed him and Fuchs – but Lang did not want to give any details about the “defuse” to the media.
Lang had “no perception” of whether Pilnacek or Fuchs influenced the judiciary. Lang was also unable to state whether the interior department had collected information about the WKStA due to a lack of awareness.
“Appalled by distrust” of the WKStA
In general, there was good cooperation with the WKStA, the new developments then surprised him all the more – his employees were also “appalled” by the “distrust” of the WKStA, as Lang described. He told the chief prosecutor that he should clarify that, according to Lang. He also described the problem openly to Vrabl-Sanda: “I have the impression that you are still under the impression of the BAT disaster,” he told her.
Report on tensions between StA Vienna and WKStA
In addition, Lang stated that at the end of 2019 he commissioned Holzer with a status report on the tensions between the Vienna public prosecutor and the WKStA. At that time, it was to be documented “as precisely as possible” about “what questions and difficulties arose with the public prosecutor’s office”. Asked whether the status report described the work with the Vienna public prosecutor’s office as “smooth, trusting” and that with the WKStA as “in need of improvement”, Lang said, he had to “agree”.
Holzer “first choice”
Many questions arose at the beginning of the use of the “SoKo Tape”: “They are used when there are special challenges”, it is “routine”, says Lang. There was no doubt that the “Ibiza” cause also needed a SoKo. After the then new interior minister of the interim government – Eckart Ratz (he replaced the blue Herbert Kickl who had been sacked) – asked him to manage the affairs of the director general for public security on an interim basis, he said to him “and to the contacts in the judiciary”, that in his opinion a SoKo must be used.
He had appointed the head of the SoKo – that is, Holzer – said Lang (“It was my suggestion”), the head then chose the employees, as Lang stated in response to questions from the FPÖ and NEOS. But you don’t know each other (he and Holzer) from before.
No “interrogations of attitudes”
Holzer had “proven himself very well” in earlier investigations – he was “the first choice,” said Lang. According to Lang, he himself took on Holzer’s bias test. “You’ve known the people for a long time.” In addition, you sound out who could be the suspect or witness in the case and check possible personal circumstances to that effect.
Lang stated that it was not possible to carry out “interrogations” on officials in order to find out whether officials were allegedly close to the ÖVP. “These far-fetched allegations of bias hurt me,” said Lang. And: Lang saw “not at all” when Holzer was installed.
When asked by NEOS, Lang “did not rule out” that Holzer might have known the alleged “Ibiza” mastermind Julian Hessenthaler from before the “Ibiza” scandal – but he didn’t know. Holzer has had a long career as an investigator, so according to Lang it shouldn’t be surprising.