Danish eurosceptic lawmaker acquitted in EU fraud case

FILE PHOTO: Chairman of Danish People's Party Morten Messerschmidt before the court in the Meld and Feld case

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Legislator Morten Messerschmidt of the eurosceptic Danish People's Party was on Wednesday acquitted of charges of document fraud and misuse of EU funds by a Copenhagen court, according to public broadcaster DR.

He was sentenced to prison in August last year on the same charges in a case that was later declared a mistrial following complaints about the judge's competence to rule in the case due to biased behaviour on social media.

The verdict ends a long-running case that was first initiated by EU's Anti-Fraud Office in 2015 on suspicion of fraudulent use of EU grants by the right-wing group MELD and its associated foundation FELD, both of which are now defunct.

"I was moved. Relieved. The case has cast its shadow over the Danish People's Party and me as politician for seven years now," Messerschmidt told DR outside the court.

It was not yet clear whether the decision would be appealed as the entire verdict will have to be reviewed, public prosecutor Rasmus Maar Hansen told journalists outside the court.

MELD, the Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy, was led by Messerschmidt in 2014-15 and as its president, he approved some of the spending.

According to the charges, Messerschmidt spent around 100,000 Danish crowns ($14,293) of EU funds meant for information campaigns about the bloc to promote Danish People's Party activities.

($1 = 6.9965 Danish crowns)

(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Arun Koyyur)