Austrian ex-MEP Ernst Strasser jailed for bribe-taking

Former Austrian interior minister and Euro MP, Ernst Strasser, has been sentenced to four years in jail for bribe-taking.

His lawyer has instantly said he will appeal meaning that Strasser will not go to jail until the appeal has been heard.

Strasser, 56, of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (OeVP), was one of four MEPs caught up in a “cash-for-laws” scandal in 2011.

He resigned after reporters from the  Sunday Times insight team alleged he had accepted offers of cash in exchange for proposing amendments to EU laws.

He was secretly filmed by journalists who posed as lobbyists and alleged he had accepted offers of cash in exchange for influencing EU laws.

Strasser denied any wrongdoing, but resigned saying he wanted to protect his conservative People’s Party. He said he had guessed that the “lobbyists” were fake, but had played along with the ruse in order to find out what was actually motivating the pair, who dined with him before the Sunday Times expose in March 2011.

Prosecutors said he had asked for a 100,000-euro (£81,000; $130,000) annual payment in exchange for influencing EU legislation in the European Parliament.

Alexandra Maruna, for the prosecution, said Strasser had “massively harmed European politics” and deserved to be punished for abusing confidence in elected officials.

Strasser served as Austrian interior minister from 2000 to 2004 and in the European Parliament from 2009 to 2011.