Austrian far-right party expels former leader Strache

Austria's far-right Freedom Party has expelled Heinz-Christian Strache, its longtime leader and the country's former vice chancellor

BERLIN -- Austria's far-right Freedom Party on Friday expelled Heinz-Christian Strache, its longtime leader and the country's former vice chancellor, months after a scandal that ended the party's time in government.

Strache, 50, later also came under fire for the alleged billing of private expenses to his party.

Strache denied any wrongdoing but announced in early October that he was getting out of politics to protect his family and prevent splits in the party. His party suspended him the same day.

Strache's successor as party leader, Norbert Hofer, described his expulsion Friday as “a relief to us” and said it allows the Freedom Party to look to the future.

Strache's wife, Philippa, was kicked out of the party in October after she accepted a seat won in the election. She now sits as an independent lawmaker in parliament.

A non-partisan interim government under Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein is currently running Austria. Kurz is in negotiations with the environmentalist Green party to form a new governing coalition.