Austrian Ex-Minister’s Corruption Verdict Returns to Lower Court

Ernst Strasser, a former interior minister who was filmed offering to influence legislation for money, faces a retrial after Austria’s highest court overturned his jail sentence for corruption and influence peddling.

The trial court didn’t sufficiently state in its first-instance verdict whether Strasser asked for money in return for “a concrete official action” to change legislation, the court said in a statement. Today’s decision means that Vienna’s criminal court will have to look at the evidence again and establish a link to a concrete legislative project in a new verdict, it said.

Journalists from London’s Sunday Times in March 2011 published a film of Strasser, then a member of the Austrian People’s Party, offering to influence European legislation in exchange for a 100,000-euro ($135,510) fee. Strasser later argued that he suspected the reporters, Claire Newell and Jonathan Calvert, to be spies and that he wanted to expose them, the Austrian Press Agency reported.

Strasser’s lawyer Thomas Kralik, said via telephone that he was satisfied with the verdict and was still convinced that his client is not guilty.

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