Austrian court acquits ex-vice chancellor in retrial

Jan 9, 2023, 1:46 PM | Updated: Jan 10, 2023, 4:21 am
FILE - In this Friday, July 9, 2021 file photo former Freedom Party (FPOE) leader Heinz-Christian S...

FILE - In this Friday, July 9, 2021 file photo former Freedom Party (FPOE) leader Heinz-Christian Strache waits for the start of a trial in a courtroom in Vienna, Austria. A Vienna court has acquitted the former Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache in a retrial in which he was accused of trying to change laws to favor a private hospital in exchange for donations to his political party, local media reported Tuesday. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner, file)

(AP Photo/Lisa Leutner, file)

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

The trial at the Vienna Criminal Court was a repeat, after the Vienna Higher Regional Court last year overturned the initial conviction, saying exculpatory chat messages had not been sufficiently appreciated during the original trial in 2021. The court said the reasons for the 2021 verdict were contradictory and not comprehensible, media reported.

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

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Austrian court acquits ex-vice chancellor in retrial