Austrian ex-MEP on bribery charge over Strasbourg 'deal'

Ernst Strasser - file pic
Image caption Mr Strasser's meeting with British undercover reporters sparked the probe last year

A former Austrian interior minister and Euro MP, Ernst Strasser, has been charged in Vienna with corruption.

Mr Strasser, 56, of the conservative Austrian People's Party (OeVP), was one of four MEPs caught up in a "cash-for-laws" scandal last year.

He resigned as an MEP in March 2011 after reporters from the UK's Sunday Times newspaper alleged he had accepted offers of cash in exchange for proposing amendments to EU laws.

Mr Strasser has denied wrongdoing.

He was accused of bribe-taking after a 15-month investigation spanning five countries, in which Austrian authorities questioned 90 people, carried out house searches and examined various bank accounts. He could face up to 10 years in jail if found guilty.

Austrian media say the EU anti-corruption agency Olaf is still investigating Mr Strasser.

Prosecutors in Vienna accuse him of having asked for a 100,000-euro (£79,000; $129,000) annual payment in exchange for influencing EU legislation in the European Parliament. The indictment was triggered by the Sunday Times investigation, in which two journalists posing as lobbyists had met Mr Strasser and three other MEPs.

Mr Strasser and Slovenian MEP Zoran Thaler resigned after the revelations. A third, Romanian MEP Adrian Severin, was expelled from the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) bloc in the parliament, but remains an independent MEP.

Pedro Zalba, an MEP in Spain's centre-right Popular Party (PP), also met the reporters but denied doing any "cash-for-laws" deal with them.

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