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Munich minister resigns in 'model car scandal'

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Munich minister resigns in 'model car scandal'
Christine Haderthauer at her resignation press conference in Munich on Monday. Photo: DPA
11:48 CEST+02:00
Christine Haderthauer, head of the Bavarian state chancery, resigned “with immediate effect” on Monday evening over the so-called “model car scandal” in which her company sold scale models built by a man convicted of three sexual murders.

Haderthauer, a Christian Social Union (CSU) state minister, is under investigation after a business partner accused her of cheating him out of tens of thousands of euros and has been facing down calls to resign for weeks.

Although the case didn't oblige her to resign, she said at a hastily-called press conference in Munich “that my office and the political themes that go with it would be totally overwhelmed after my experience with all the public press coverage in recent weeks”.

Haderthauer and her husband Hubert were partners with Frenchman Roger Ponton in Sapor Model Engineering. The company sold model cars built in prison by criminals under treatment by psychiatrists, including a man, Roland S., convicted of three sex murders.

Hubert, a young doctor at a hospital where Roland criminal was treated in 1988, got to know him and set up the business arrangement with his wife and Ponton.

But the couple lost contact with Ponton after 1996. He resurfaced in 2011, demanding payment for his share of the business after the Haderthauers sold it in 2008. The parties agreed on a sum of €20,000.

After a Spiegel report into the case in 2013, Bavarian state prosecutors opened disciplinary proceedings against Hubert Haderthauer. In May 2014, Ponton brought his own accusations against the pair, saying that they had cheated him out of €30,000 by under-reporting the company's profits.

Christine Haderthauer is also suspected of having been further involved with the firm after her supposed withdrawal in 2003.

Pressure from the press and opposition parties in the state parliament finally grew too great, and Haderthauer was forced to resign from the cabinet on Monday despite the support of CSU First Minister Horst Seehofer.

The CSU leader said that he was sad to have “lost a courageous cabinet member with strong convictions” who had given “outstanding service to the Free State of Bavaria and always conducted herself correctly in office.”

He had previously criticised Haderthauer's management of the media storm around the crisis.

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