Germany`s ex-president to face trial over favour scandal

Germany`s former president Christian Wulff, who resigned amid a scandal last year, will face court on charges of accepting a favour while in office, justice officials said on Tuesday

Last Updated: Aug 27, 2013, 18:26 PM IST

Berlin: Germany`s former president Christian Wulff, who resigned amid a scandal last year, will face court on charges of accepting a favour while in office, justice officials said on Tuesday.

Wulff, 54, who was Germany`s youngest president and served less than two years in the largely ceremonial job, will become the country`s first former head of state to answer charges in court.

He is accused of having allowed a film producer friend to pick up part of his Munich hotel bill during a 2008 Oktoberfest visit in return for lending support to a film project when he was Lower Saxony`s state premier.

Film producer David Groenewold has also been charged on suspicion he paid more than 500 euros (USD 668) for Wulff and his wife, from whom the ex-president has since separated.

Wulff has insisted he did not notice the favour at the time and later repaid the money in cash.

The trial is expected to start on November 1 in Hanover.

The charge of accepting favours while in office carries a maximum penalty of three years` jail and a fine under German law.

The accusations were reduced from the more serious corruption and bribery charges which had been demanded by prosecutors and carry up to five years` jail.
Wulff and Groenewold earlier this year rejected an offer to settle the case with a fine, saying they want to clear their names in court.

At the height of the scandal, Wulff was battered by almost daily media allegations that he had accepted favours, including other holidays and a home loan, from business friends when he was state premier.

He stepped down in February 2012 after prosecutors had demanded his immunity be lifted.

Wulff, who had been Chancellor Angela Merkel`s hand-picked choice for the post, was replaced by Lutheran pastor Joachim Gauck, a former rights activist in communist East Germany.

AFP