European lawmaker sentenced to three-and-half years after bribery retrial

VIENNA Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:11pm EDT

Former Austrian Interior Minister Ernst Strasser waits for his trial to start in Vienna March 4, 2014, in a corruption case that has undermined trust in European and Austrian institutions. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Former Austrian Interior Minister Ernst Strasser waits for his trial to start in Vienna March 4, 2014, in a corruption case that has undermined trust in European and Austrian institutions.

Credit: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

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VIENNA (Reuters) - A former member of the European Parliament was sentenced to 3-1/2 years in jail by a Vienna court on Thursday after his retrial in a cash-for-laws case, Austrian media reported.

Ernst Strasser, also an ex-Austrian interior minister, originally got a four-year term in 2013 after he was filmed by reporters from Britain's Sunday Times newspaper offering to propose amendments to European laws in exchange for 100,000 euros ($139,000) a year.

Austria's supreme court overturned the conviction last November and ordered a new trial, ruling it was not clear that Strasser had demanded money to influence specific legislation.

Der Standard newspaper said Strasser's lawyer had immediately lodged an appeal to Thursday's sentence.

Strasser had pleaded not guilty, saying he neither intended nor tried to influence legislation and had wanted only to find out more about the journalists, who were posing as lobbyists and whom Strasser said he found suspicious.

"The fact is, there is no contract," he had told the court, adding that he had not even handed over his bank account details for payment.

Strasser resigned after the Sunday Times report in 2011.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; editing by David Stamp)

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