Austrian court overturns conviction of ex-vice chancellor

BERLIN (AP) — A Vienna court overturned the corruption conviction of former Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache for trying to change laws to favor a private hospital in exchange for donations to his political party, local media reported Tuesday.

The Vienna Higher Regional Court said proceedings would have to be repeated because exculpatory chat messages had not been sufficiently appreciated during an earlier trial.

Last August, the ex-leader of the far-right Freedom Party received a 15-month suspended prison sentence for accepting two bribes totaling 12,000 euros (dollars). Strache, who served as vice chancellor from 2017 to 2019, had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The higher regional court came to the conclusion that the reasons for the verdict given by the court during the earlier ruling were contradictory and not comprehensible, media reported.

Last month, Strache was acquitted in a different corruption trial in which he had been accused of procuring a post for a businessman on the supervisory board of Asfinag — a government-owned company that manages Austria’s highway system — in exchange for donations to an organization close to the Freedom Party.

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