* 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 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.