Strasser gets new trial in EU legislation bribe case

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 26, 2013 6:36 AM
Strasser gets new trial in EU legislation bribe case

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria's Supreme Court overturned the conviction of former Interior Minister and European lawmaker Ernst Strasser in a cash-for-laws case and sent the issue back on Tuesday to a lower court for retrial.

A Vienna court had sentenced Strasser, who acknowledged making errors but denied committing any crime, to four years in jail for bribery in January.

Strasser had been filmed offering to propose amendments to European legislation in exchange for 100,000 euros ($135,100) a year.

Prosecutors said his conduct had undermined trust in European and Austrian institutions.

Journalists from Britain's Sunday Times posing as lobbyists filmed Strasser during a sting operation that ran from mid-2010 to March 2011.

But the upper court ruled it was not clear Strasser had demanded money to influence specific legislation, a loophole in the law that was closed only this year.

Austria's top law enforcement official from 2000 to 2004, Strasser resigned when the story broke, denying wrongdoing but saying he wanted to protect his conservative People's Party.

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(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)