German ex-president rejects deal to end case

AP News
Posted: Apr 09, 2013 10:09 AM
German ex-president rejects deal to end case

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's former president spurned a deal Tuesday to drop legal proceedings against him in a scandal over alleged favors that prompted his resignation last year. Christian Wulff's lawyers said he would fight to be cleared in court instead.

Prosecutors had offered to close the case against Wulff in exchange for a fine — a common German practice when prosecutors conclude the evidence doesn't necessarily justify formal charges and a trial.

But his lawyers argued that the case should be closed without conditions and said Wulff would fight on.

"The reason is simple: the accusations made against Mr. Wulff are unfounded," attorney Bernd Muessig said.

"We as defense lawyers trust that at the end of these proceedings there will be a decision that will fully rehabilitate and clear President Wulff," fellow attorney Michael Nagel said.

Hannover prosecutors haven't yet filed formal charges.

Wulff resigned in February 2012 following a barrage of allegations, including that he received a favorable loan and hotel stays from friends when he was governor of Lower Saxony state before being elected president in 2010.

He stepped down after prosecutors in Hannover asked Parliament to lift his immunity so they could start a formal investigation of the allegations related to alleged favors from a film producer friend. Prosecutors said at the time there was an "initial suspicion" that Wulff improperly accepted or granted benefits in his relationship with David Groenewold, a German film producer.

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In a terse statement Tuesday, Hannover prosecutors said Groenewold's lawyers also had rejected an offer to have proceedings dropped in exchange for a payment.

Wulff was a deputy leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union before becoming president. His resignation after less than two years in a five-year term was an embarrassment to the chancellor.