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Abuse of office trial against Tyrolean university rectorate postponed

Abuse of office trial against Tyrolean university rectorate postponed
Judge Andreas Mair as part of a trial against the former rectorate of the University of Education.

The three defendants are said to have not admitted an applicant to the hearing or not given first priority in the recruitment process for vacant positions in their roles at the time. The defendants’ lawyers pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial.

To be continued on July 10th

The trial will continue on July 10. The first defendant, the former rector, was questioned on Wednesday before the jury panel chaired by Judge Andreas Mair. The applicant simply “did not meet the requirements,” said the ex-rector. This concerned, for example, the academic field: “He had no professional experience.” The defendant admitted that there had been problems with the applicant in the past. These had revolved around an advertisement, and he had also received complaints from employees about him: “One employee came to me in tears.”

The second and third defendants, both former vice rectors, also pleaded not guilty and essentially confirmed the first defendant’s statements. The second defendant emphasized that the decision that the person concerned did not have sufficient academic professional experience was made unanimously. She denied that she had made any discriminatory comments about the applicant. The third defendant confirmed that the applicant had not met the “must-have” criteria stated in the advertisement.

“Toxic” climate

The equal treatment officer and member of the department committee at the time supported the accusations made by the prosecution. He stated on the witness stand that around one of the applications the applicant’s practice of weight training had been raised. It was “incomprehensible” why another applicant was given preference, particularly during the second appointment process. Contrary to the defendant’s statements, the person concerned “fulfilled” the requirements and also had appropriate professional experience. There was also talk of a “toxic” climate at the university. Another witness – an early applicant at the time – did not notice any irregularities.

The defendants’ defense attorneys had previously denied the allegations in their opening statements and denied that there had been any deliberate abuse of authority. The application procedures were “transparent and correct.” The positions in question also required not only professional but also personal suitability, the lawyers said in unison.

There is a risk of up to 5 years in prison

The case dates back to the period from 2020 to mid-2021. The person allegedly overlooked in the recruitment process had met all of the service requirements specified in the advertisement and was better qualified than other applicants, the indictment said. Nevertheless, he was not considered. The crime of abuse of office is punishable by a prison sentence of between six months and five years.

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