Austrian ex-interior minister's jail term for bribery cut to three years

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 13, 2014 9:45 AM

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria's top court on Monday reduced on appeal to three years a jail term imposed on an ex-European Parliament member for offering to propose amendments to laws in exchange for 100,000 euros ($126,830) a year, a court spokesman said.

Ernst Strasser, also a former interior minister of Austria, was originally given a four-year term in 2013 after he was filmed by reporters from Britain's Sunday Times newspaper offering to pursue amendments for cash.

After a retrial, he was sentenced to 3-1/2 years in jail for bribery by a Vienna court in March. His lawyer had appealed the sentence and the case was referred to the Supreme Court of the Alpine republic.

The Austrian national news agency APA said Strasser, a member of the conservative Peoples' Party who had served as interior minister from 2000-04, would have to spend at least six months in prison.

"An EU parliamentarian who is corrupt is an evil that destabilises and calls into question the functioning of the European Union," APA quoted Supreme Court President Eckart Ratz as saying.

However, Ratz said the court decided to reduce the sentence because Strasser had been made into somewhat of a "scapegoat" by the circumstances of the offense and deserved some pity for his public fall.

Strasser said he had made "grave mistakes" but denied the charges against him, according to APA.

(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Mark Heinrich)