As a criminal law professor, Susanne Reindl-Krauskopf deals with facts. Her job is to determine exact definitions of laws, legislations, and procedures. It’s not her job to pass judgment, and in a field that for those on the ground – lawyers, judges, police officers, investigators – can be risky or even dangerous, precise rules are tantamount.
This is why Reindl-Krauskopf, also head of the Austrian Center for Law Enforcement Sciences (ALES), an interdisciplinary research center, has been called upon to chair high-profile investigation committees like the Natascha Kampusch kidnapping case and the inquiry into allegations of abuse at the Vienna Ballet Academy.
Calm, cool and extremely collected, the native Linzer chooses her words very carefully when addressing matters of the law, being sure to use proper terms and never hinting at a subjective opinion. As she appeared for our lockdown Zoom interview in an elegant business suit, heavily book-laden shelves behind her, it was quite easy to picture her presiding over those commissions.
It was also easy to picture her rationally explaining the legal intricacies of high-profile cases to the press, another service ALES provides. However, she admits she was just as surprised by the 2019 government-toppling Ibiza video scandal as the rest of us.
“But then of course I started thinking like a lawyer and tried to identify what the prosecutable elements of the situation could be,” she said.
Issues of corruption also fall under the purview of criminal law research. ALES often works closely with the Austrian Federal Bureau of Anti-Corruption and has published several books on the provisions of Austrian criminal law relating to corruption and abuse of authority.
As a legal expert, Reindl-Krauskopf has to be careful of what she says in public. Still, she does have opinions, albeit “not necessarily specific to Austria.” She took a long, contemplative pause, making sure of her words, to express her view on corruption.
“Acts of corruption occur in secret, and their participants are aware of this. When someone does something in secret, it’s because they don’t want others to know and fear what others will think. The moment this results in a choice to not say anything – this is the moment transparency is gone.”
To us, her point was perfectly clear.