15:31, 27 January 2021
The first person to provide information, Chancellor’s Chief of Staff Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP), Bernhard Bonelli. Asked by MPs, he said several times that he was not involved or that he was on holiday at the time.
According to Bonelli, the order to destroy the data carrier from the Office came from the leader of the group. But he only found out later. He couldn’t tell if the media was the hard drive of a printer or a laptop. An employee of Kurz was also called on Wednesday, whose hard drives were destroyed under a false name and without payment after the video was published in Ibiza. The crusher and group leader are still employed in the Federal Office.
He was involved in the Ballhausplatz project, i.e. those internal considerations from Kurz’s environment to become his chancellor, according to Bonelli, who joined the cabinet of then-Kurz Foreign Minister in the summer of 2017. It was mainly about the content of government work. In any case, he had nothing to do with the donor lists.
All personal data deleted
Bonelli confirmed that Kurz had a meeting calendar. But he doesn’t know who ran this for chancellor. When official affairs were handed over to the transitional government, the files were handed over to the heirs to the position, and others were handed over to the Federal Archives. Personal records and notes, such as meeting calendars, are not archived, according to Bonelli. He also deleted all personal information when he left the office. And he could not remember whether the then ÖVP Chancellor Gernot Blümel worked with a laptop.
Leader of a liberal parliamentary group Christian Hafenecker Above all, Bonelli wanted to reconstruct the process in the office after the famous video about Ibiza. However, the chief of staff remained largely vague: for example, there was debate about what this meant for government work and how it should go from here. Hafenecker wanted to know if the resignation of then-FPÖ Interior Minister Herbert Kickl was already a problem on Friday night. But Bonelli couldn’t remember that either. In general, it failed to provide the details requested by Hafenecker due to lack of memory.
There was also a parliamentary question from Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein and the question of whether Bonelli was involved in the answer. Did he contribute to that? “I can’t remember that,” Bonelli said. This is because the office’s response to hard drive shredding differs from the internal audit report. The answer to the question said that Kurz and the then Chancellor Gernot Blümel (ÖVP) were not involved. However, it is clear from the audit report that it is not at all clear who was involved.
Bonelli talked for five hours
The rest of Bonelli’s interrogation ended with little information after five hours. The Chancellor’s chief of staff’s responses remained general or mostly non-binding for a long time until the end, and he repeatedly could not remember or had no perceptions or “was not involved”. Deputies also criticized the fact that Bonelli was in extensive consultation with his confidant.
According to Bonelli, it was time to question an employee whose hard drives had been shredded. Former Chief of Staff Gernot Blümel (ÖVP) Albert Posch was invited as the third person of the day.