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Speculation swirls over dead Austrian far-rightist

October 25, 2008|the Associated Press

VIENNA — Speculation that far-right leader Joerg Haider led a double life raged after his political protege, Stefan Petzner, publicly called Haider "the man of my life" in a tearful tribute to the Freedom Party boss who died in a car crash this month.

Petzner, 27, did not say explicitly that he and Haider, a married father of two, had a sexual relationship.

But the tone of Petzner's remarks, along with photographs purportedly showing Haider, 58, in a gay bar on the eve of his death, has raised questions about the ultraconservative nationalist.

"This can't go on," said Michael Fleischhacker, editor in chief of the daily Die Presse. "Stefan Petzner needs to make a decision: Either he describes what was so special about his relationship with Joerg Haider, or he stops publicly playing the role of Haider's successor and widow."

Haider died Oct. 11 after crashing his car in the southern province of Carinthia, where he was governor. Investigators say he was drunk and speeding when his vehicle plowed into a concrete post and flipped.

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