Berlin airport employee jailed for taking huge bribe
A former department head at Berlin-Brandenburg Airport (BER) was jailed on Wednesday after admitting in court to taking a huge bribe from a subcontractor at the long-delayed air hub.
The state court of Brandenburg in Cottbus on Wednesday sentenced Francis G. to three and a half years in prison on a bribery charge. Francis G. must also pay a fine equivalent to the €150,000 bribe he took from the firm Imtech.
The sentence was just short of the three years and eight months demanded by the prosecution.
The court found that Francis G. had taken the money in exchange for allowing Imtech's claims for additional payments of €25 million to pass through review without being checked.
Imtech, which has since gone into insolvency, was responsible, among other things, for the construction of the fire safety system at the airport, deficiencies of which are the main reason for its opening having been delayed by at least six years.
Two former employees of the firm were also convicted on Wednesday. The men received probationary sentences of one year and eleven months, and one year and three months.
At the start of the trial in August the 48-year-old Francis G. admitted to taking the €150,000 bribe, in three rolls of €500 bills, from one of the other defendants in an Autobahn car park. He claimed however that he did not make any promises in exchange for the cash.
The two ex-Imtech employees also did not deny that the payment had taken place but said that Francis G. had made the demand for it.
In his closing remarks, the judge said it could not be sufficiently established on whose initiative the bribe was made.
Berlin authorities have pledged that BER airport will open in 2017, six years behind schedule, but have as yet given no official opening date.
On Wednesday BER project boss Karsten Mühlenfeld said "we believe there is still a chance that the opening date will be in 2017."
But as building at the site remains unfinished, with testing phases still to come, many have voiced scepticism at how realistic such a timetable is.