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Prosecutors want Wulff's immunity lifted

The Local · 17 Feb 2012, 07:25

Published: 17 Feb 2012 07:25 GMT+01:00

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The public prosecutor's office in Hannover, Lower Saxony, where Wulff was formerly state premier, announced late on Thursday it had asked the Bundestag lower house of parliament to lift the president's immunity - a pre-requisite for any inquiry to begin.

They said that after extensive examination of new documents and the evaluation of media reports it now saw enough grounds for an "initial suspicion" of accepting or granting favours, against Wulff, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union.

The Hannover prosecutors also announced an "initial suspicion" against Wulff's film producer friend David Grönewold, who reportedly picked up the bills for Wulff's hotel and an upgrade during two short breaks. Wulff's lawyers have said he repaid the money in cash for one of the stays.

"It's now too much, Christian Wulff must face the consequences," opposition Greens MP Christian Ströbele told the Tagesspiegel daily on Friday. He said it was unimaginable for Wulff to remain in office during a criminal investigation.

Wulff, 52, first landed in hot water in December when it was reported he had failed to declare a home loan at an advantageous interest rate he accepted from the wife of a tycoon friend while premier of Lower Saxony.

When opposition state deputies asked him whether he had business ties to the tycoon or any firms connected with him, Wulff had kept quiet.

As other claims, including over alleged free holidays accepted from wealthy friends, emerged almost daily about Wulff, he was forced to make a nationally televised mea culpa.

Wulff, whose role is largely ceremonial but which acts as kind of moral arbiter, has faced calls for his resignation over the home loan and subsequent claims he tried to hush up the story, but has insisted he wants to stay in office.

"I am pleased to assume my responsibilities (as president), I took them on for a five-year term," Wulff said in a televised interview in early January.

Chief whip for the opposition Social Democratic Party, Thomas Oppermann, said in a German newspaper on Friday that his party would vote unanimously for the president's immunity to be lifted.

"I expect that also from the Union and the Chancellor," he told the Passauer Neue Presse, referring to Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union party.

Story continues below…

Merkel's spokesman has repeatedly said held Wulff in "great esteem" both as a person and as a president, but the scandal is an increasingly unwelcome distraction as she seeks to focus on the eurozone debt crisis.

Wulff's presidency has been rocky from the start. His election in June 2010 proved humiliating for Merkel as members of her own coalition broke ranks and refused to vote for him in parliament amid a strong challenge from a former East German dissident, a political outsider.

Wulff, who had once been considered a potential challenger to Merkel, only eked out a victory in the third round.

AFP/DAPD/The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:01 February 17, 2012 by Krim
The amazing thing is that no one did address these issues while he was state premier.

The million question is :

Why now?

What are the real reasons now?
09:46 February 17, 2012 by Portnoy
They did try to address it when he was premier and he lied about it - and they believed him. It also took years for the illegal donations to Chancellor Kohl to come to light, but he was untouchable, apparently.
10:46 February 17, 2012 by McM
Great stuff, here we go again. It's the Wulff it's the Wulff,.....on with the witch hunt.

I have heard of penis envy but Schnäppchenjäger envy portrayed as bad form adds a whole new dimension in German politics. It looks like the poor chap will finally bow out as BP . This is up there with the best of the German shock horror press frenzy campaigns. Who will be next?

Sorry if I am being provocative but it really is a funny issue.

Yes I know, possible corruption, credibility,public image, national pride, honesty etc etc. Such blatant bargain hunting should be exposed. After all it's up there with the naughty Greek budget .

Well , must go and walk the dog.
11:14 February 17, 2012 by lucksi
Well, the important thing is, that he will get his lifelong 200k/year pension + benefits from his stellar one year job performance plus whatever else he will receive from his former jobs.

And the list of people who can fill that job for the next few years is great.
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