Update: Jörg Haider’s widow does not believe that his death was an accident, and has prevented his cremation so that there may be a second post-mortem, possibly outside of Austria (hat tip: JD):
Haider Widow Believes Death ‘Not an Accident’
The widow of Joerg Haider believes the far-right Austrian politician’s death in a car crash may not have been an accident and has saved his body from cremation for a second post mortem, a Vienna newspaper has reported.
Today cited senior members of Mr Haider’s party as claiming that his widow Claudia had doubts about the official explanation of her husband’s death and wanted a further examination by a coroner, possibly in Italy.
The paper suggested that Mr Haider’s body was abruptly withdrawn from a planned cremation on Saturday. It said Mrs Haider feared her husband may have been drugged.
Party sources pointed to the fact that there were no tyre skid marks as evidence Mr Haider was unconscious when he crashed, Today said.
Mr Haider’s car, a VW Phaeton, struck a pillar and flipped near the city of Klagenfurt. The governor of the state of Carinthia, was nearly four times over the legal blood alcohol limit.
Stefan Petzner, his protégé, has been linked to Haider romantically by Austrian media after Mr Petzner said: “We had a relationship that went far beyond friendship. Me and Jorg were connected by something truly special. He was the man of my life.”
Mr Petzner briefly succeeded Mr Haider as leader of the Alliance for the Future of Austria but was sacked after his tearful revelation.
According to some of my Austrian contacts, the fact that Jörg Haider was gay — or at least bisexual — had been an open secret in Austria for years. It was something that political insiders knew but which did not generally appear in the press.
Now that Mr. Haider is safely dead, certain details of this previously obscure aspect of his life are surfacing. The man who succeeded him as leader of the BZÖ, Stefan Petzner, has been forced to step down from his position after revealing that he and Mr. Haider were lovers.
According to the Times Online:
Far-right Austrian leader sacked for revealing gay affair with Jörg Haider
The successor of the Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider was dismissed yesterday after he revealed a “special” relationship “far beyond” friendship with his former mentor.
In emotional interviews with the national broadcaster and a tabloid newspaper Stefan Petzner spoke openly about his affair with Haider, who died at the age of 58 in a high-speed car crash after heavy drinking session at a gay club this month. Haider’s party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria, captured 11 per cent of the vote in national elections last month.
“He was the man of my life. Our relationship went far beyond friendship,” Mr Petzner, 27, said after only a week in the job, adding that Haider’s wife, Claudia, 52, “did not object” to their relationship.
“I only had him. Now I am all alone. I would spend nights with him and his family and that was important for me because I often was afraid to be alone in the dark,” he added.
Regardless of one’s opinion on homosexuality, this last tidbit of information indicates that the BZÖ was wise to oust him. How could a man with an acknowledged fear of the dark be fit to lead a major political party?
The article continues:
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Mr Petzner’s appointment as party leader was widely seen as a fulfilment of Haider’s last wish, as he had frequently said in public that he would like his young protégé to take his place one day. Mr Petzner dropped out of university when he met Haider at a party. At that time he was working as a journalist, writing about cosmetic treatments.
Outraged by the interviews, the party felt compelled yesterday to dismiss its leader amid reports of his alleged role in Haider’s tragic death. Local papers said that, on the night of his accident, Haider and Mr Petzner had a row at a magazine launch party. Haider left in a hurry and drove to a gay club in Klagenfurt, his home town, where he drank vodka with male escorts. The reports said that he was hardly able to walk to his car.
But Stefan Petzner is not leaving the BZÖ completely. In fact, he will be the deputy to the new party leader:
The new leader of the Alliance, Josef Buchner, 43, a hotel owner and a divorced father of two, is seen as a more conservative choice. Mr Petzner will serve as his deputy.
Am I being over-fastidious in thinking that this whole affair is a bit peculiar? Mr. Haider’s deputy obviously had duties that extended beyond the mere conduct of party affairs. His placement in the same position within the entourage of the new leader would suggest a continuation of his former role. After all, Jörg Haider had a wife and children, too.
Or maybe I just have a dirty mind…