Ex-MEP Strasser canvassed unusually hard for "lobbyists", court told
* Former Austrian interior minister denies bribery charges
* YouTube video show him offering to sway European lawmakers
* Strasser faces 10 years in jail if convicted of corruption
VIENNA, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Disgraced politician Ernst Strasser, who denies trying to influence European legislation in exchange for cash, went to unusual lengths to push for changes to laws, an Austrian court was told on Thursday.
Strasser is on trial for bribery in Vienna after secretly shot video revealed him last year offering to use his position to sway European lawmakers during a meeting with two undercover journalists posing as potential clients.
Strasser, who resigned as a European lawmaker last year and was previously Austrian interior minister, says he believed the two journalists were U.S. secret service agents and he pretended to engage with them to find out who they were working for.
He said he quit to protect his party, the conservative People's Party (OVP).
In the video, published on YouTube (), Strasser tells the journalists from Britain's Sunday Times: "Most European parliamentarians are as lazy as I am."
Prosecutor Alexandra Maruna told the court on the first day of his trial last week: "He massively harmed European politics." He faces 10 years in jail if convicted.
On Thursday, Othmar Karas, the vice president of the European Parliament and a leader of the conservative faction to which Strasser belonged, said Strasser had pushed hard for the legal changes the "lobbyists" wanted.
"I have never experienced such direct exertion of influence and level of contact from a member of parliament," he told the court, according to the Austria Press Agency.
Karas said Strasser had made eight phone calls and sent four emails to his office, none of which hinted at an intention merely to sound out the supposed potential clients rather than to promote their interests.
The journalists had asked for amendments to laws including changes to investment legislation that would have benefited hedge funds. A hedge fund was among their fictitious clients.
The journalists are expected to testify via videolink in January. The case continues next Tuesday.
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