Court rejects Strasser’s allegations

The legal charges made against “Upper Austrian News (OÖN) by the former Interior Minister Ernst Strasser (ÖVP) were  rejected. Mr Strasser charged the newspaper due to their reporting of the lobbying affair for slander.

The former politician considered two articles of the OÖN to have damaged his reputation. The newspaper wanted to establish the facts of the matter. The trial was postponed several times.

In January, the Vienna Criminal Court sentenced Mr Strasser to four years in jail for corruption. The public prosecutor’s office accepted the verdict, and Mr Strasser resorted to legal remedies.

The judgment has thus not come into power. A decision of the Austrian Supreme Court of Justice (OGH) is not expected before September.

Mr Strasser’s lawyer changed his requests on Monday and accused the OÖN for violating the presumption of innocence in both articles, which were published in the printed version and on the Internet. He also demanded an appropriate compensation.

The court stated that the articles did not accuse Mr Strasser of corruptive behaviour, for which he was convicted in Vienna later, but that they were about the additional occupation he had in the past.

Two British investigative journalists pretended to be lobbyists and proved that Mr Strasser was corruptive in regards to influencing the EU legislation. The six conversations were recorded in secret videos.

The former politician is said to have demanded a yearly fee of 100,000 Euros for his service. Mr Strasser claimed in the trial that he thought that the “lobbyists” were secret agents and that he only talked to them in order to expose them afterwards.