The so-called Ibiza detective Julian Hessenthaler was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on Wednesday by the Lower Austrian regional court in St. Pölten for drug dealing and other crimes.

According to the allegations in the indictment, which the lay judge followed, he handed over a total of 1.25 kilograms of cocaine to an acquaintance in 2017 and 2018 at a price of 40 euros per gram.

Also, he has used several fake documents such as driver's licenses.

The defense wants to appeal the verdict, so it is not final.

Stephen Lowenstein

Political correspondent based in Vienna.

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Hessenthaler had confessed to the deeds, but denied the more serious drug allegation and described himself as the victim of an intrigue.

According to him, the cocaine was planted to create an allegation against him.

The reason for this is that in 2017 he set a video trap for the then chairman of the right-wing FPÖ, Heinz-Christian Strache, on Ibiza.

The publication of the video in May 2019, in which Strache promised state favors to an alleged Russian oligarch niece in return for political support, cost Strache, who had meanwhile been promoted to Vice Chancellor, his political career and broke up the then ÖVP-FPÖ coalition under Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP ).

The charge and verdict make no reference to this affair.

In the proceedings, which have been the subject of great media interest since September 2021, the public prosecutor's office rejected the claim that Hessenthaler was being prosecuted for the Ibiza video.

That was a "diversionary maneuver," the public prosecutor confirmed in the closing argument.

The investigations were prompted by an accidental discovery of drugs in a vacuum cleaner bag in the basement of the later main prosecution witness.

A former business partner of Hessenthaler also testified credibly.

The defense had pointed out that the statements of these two - who were previously in a relationship - contradicted each other in several details or were corrected in the course of the proceedings.

The court had already ruled on the occasion of the detention review dates that

The defense subordinated officials and the public prosecutor's office unilateral investigations.

Officials are said to have even intervened in a manipulative manner by instructing prosecution witnesses on how to testify.

The reason for this is a "corruption-prone political system" in Austria, which should be protected by making an example of a "whistleblower".

The court did not share this view.

In its verdict, however, it remained well below the possible maximum sentence of 15 years.

Hessenthaler's detention on remand is taken into account.

He went into hiding after the "Ibiza video" became known and was arrested in Berlin in December 2020.

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