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Austria's Haider 'drunk in fatal crash'

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  • Joerg Haider speeding at twice the limit before car crash that killed him
  • Spokesman says he can confirm widespread allegations politician was drunk
  • Investigators say high speed appeared to be main factor in crash
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(CNN) -- Far-right Austrian politician Joerg Haider was drunk at the time of his fatal car accident over the weekend, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Stefan Petzner told the Austria Press Agency that Haider's blood-alcohol level was more than three times over the legal limit when he crashed his car early Saturday.

Haider, 58, had just passed another car on the road out of Klagenfurt, in southern Austria, when he crashed into a concrete post and his car rolled over, police said. He had been driving to Baerental in the Black Forest, where his family was going to celebrate his mother's 90th birthday, the APA reported.

For years, Haider was a well-known figure in Austrian politics both for his far-right stance and for his perceived pro-Nazi comments.

At the time of his death, Haider was governor of the southern state of Carinithia and head of the BZO party (Alliance for the Future of Austria). He had founded the party in 2005 after years of leading the conservative Freedom Party.

He drew widespread criticism for his anti-immigrant stance and remarks considered anti-Semitic, and in 1991 he publicly praised Nazi Germany's employment policy. He later apologized for the statement and publicly denounced Nazism.

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Haider continued to draw attention for his controversial remarks, including an address to veterans of the Waffen S.S., Adolf Hitler's elite soldiers. Haider insisted he was not racist or anti-Semitic.

Under Haider's leadership, the Freedom Party made a strong showing in the 1999 elections, winning more than a quarter of the vote and shaking up the traditional two-party system that had ruled Austria since World War II.

Haider also had success with the BZO party. He was credited with helping the party make significant gains in last month's general elections alongside the Freedom Party, though Austria's two largest parties, the Social Democrats and the People's Party, came out on top.

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