Defendant incriminates Deutsche Telekom boss in illegal search

The Deutsche Telekom spying trial took a dramatic turn on its opening day Friday when the main accused, Klaus Trzeschan, made a partial admission and incriminated the company’s then boss Kai-Uwe Ricke.

Defendant incriminates Deutsche Telekom boss in illegal search
Ricke (left) and Zumwinkel. Photo: DPA

Trzeschan, the former head of company security, told a court in Bonn that the gathering of phone records had been carried out “without judicial decree” and had been “a big mistake.”

He and two fellow defendants, also former Telekom staff, are charged with having illegally collected the phone records of about 60 people, including unionists, journalists and members of Deutsche Telekom’s own supervisory board.

According the state prosecutor, Trzeschan and the other defendants carried out the illegal collection in an effort to find the source of a leak, after sensitive information about the company’s strategy appeared in a magazine article.

The former department head also said he was acting on the orders of then chief executive officer Kai-Uwe Ricke, who believed that the leak originated from Deutsche Telekom’s own supervisory board.

Ricke had at the start of 2005 asked Trzeschan to his office and had been “very angry” about the article, Trzeschan said. Ricke had insisted on staying out of the department of corporate communications, Trzeschan said.

In a statement read by his lawyer, Trzeschan went on to say that “circumstances of the data collection” were known to Ricke as well as then chairman Klaus Zumwinkel “in September 2005 at the latest.”

Neither the bosses nor lawyers consulted had cast doubt on the “legality of the data collection,” he said.

Authorities also searched the homes of Ricke and Zumwinkel 10 months after the scandal broke but prosecutors eventually dropped their investigation of the men, saying they could not prove the two knew about the phone record reviews at the time they took place. Ricke and Zumwinkel have denied any wrongdoing.

However, should the current trial throw up fresh evidence against Ricke and Zumwinkel, state prosecutors could reopen the investigation. Both are due to testify on October 6.

The defendants are accused of breaches of federal data protection laws.The trial will continue next Friday.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Woman on trial over killing spree at Potsdam care home

The trial began on Tuesday of a woman accused of stabbing four residents to death and severely injuring another at a German care home for disabled people where she worked outside Berlin.

Tributes laid where four people were killed at a care home in Potsdam.
Tributes laid where four people were killed at a care home in Potsdam. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Soeren Stache

Named as Ines Andrea R., the 52-year-old suspect is charged with four counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder following the bloodbath at the Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus facility in Potsdam, Brandenburg, in April.

The victims, two women and two men aged between 31 and 56, were found dead in their rooms after being stabbed with a knife, with police saying they had been subjected to “intense, extreme violence”.

Ines Andrea R. is also accused of trying to kill two further residents and of seriously injuring another, a woman aged 43.

She was detained immediately after the incident and placed in urgent psychiatric care due to what prosecutors described as “pertinent evidence” of severe mental illness.

Around 100 police officers were involved in recovering evidence at the scene.

READ ALSO: Women in custody over killings at Potsdam disabled home

The Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus, run by the Lutheran Church’s social welfare service, specialises in helping those with physical and mental disabilities, including blind, deaf and severely autistic patients.

It offers live-in care as well as schools and workshops.

Around 65 people live at the residence, which employs more than 80 people.

Germany has seen a number of high-profile murder cases from care facilities.

In the most prominent trial, nurse Niels Högel was sentenced in 2019 to life in prison for murdering 85 patients in his care.

READ ALSO: Missed chances: How Germany’s killer nurse got away with 85 murders

Högel, believed to be Germany’s most prolific serial killer, murdered patients with lethal injections between 2000 and 2005, before he was eventually caught in the act.

Last year, a Polish healthcare worker was sentenced to life in prison in Munich for killing at least three people with insulin.