The criminal process for the Volkswagen diesel affair will be postponed again in the case of the former CEO Martin Winterkorn. As had already become apparent, the Braunschweig Regional Court decided to postpone the proceedings against the former VW CEO (74) “until a later date”. The competent chamber announced this on Thursday. The corresponding section will be cut off for separate negotiation.
The reason are health problems with Winterkorn, who just had to undergo an operation. The main hearing against four other defendants is to be opened as planned next Thursday (September 16). Originally, it was supposed to start much earlier, but the corona situation already made two postponements necessary.
Start of the process unclear
It is currently unclear when exactly winter grain must also appear in the dish. “A sufficiently reliable prognosis about the point in time at which the defendant Prof. Dr. Winterkorn will be fully or at least partially negotiable is currently not possible in the opinion of the chamber,” it said.
The five former managers are charged with commercial and gang fraud in connection with the manipulation of exhaust gas on millions of diesel vehicles from the VW Group. A good six years ago in the USA it was discovered that the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer had installed deception software (“defeat device”) in the cars in question, which activated a complete cleaning of the emissions only during tests on the test bench. On the other hand, the cars emitted significantly excessive amounts of harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) on the road. The scandal kicked off the industry-wide diesel crisis and already cost Volkswagen alone more than 32 billion euros.
Public prosecutor suspects fraud
The Braunschweig public prosecutor’s office suspects that those responsible wanted to avoid installing more expensive engine and cleaning technology by covering up the real emission values - hence the alleged motive for fraud. At that time, VW was mainly in the United States with an aggressive advertising campaign. The goal: to quickly gain market share for the “clean diesel”.
The court wanted to wait for Winterkorn’s last medical treatment before rescheduling the appointment. It had also previously obtained expert opinions on the condition of the former top manager. “The operation recently carried out on the defendant is currently resulting in his incapacity to stand trial,” said the 6th Large Criminal Chamber of the Regional Court. The already long waiting time for the four other defendants should be put to an end.
Winterkorn rejects allegations
Winterkorn quickly resigned in September 2015 after the affair became known. However, he was “not aware of any wrongdoing,” he said at the time. Before an investigative committee of the Bundestag he also emphasized that he had no knowledge of illegal activities. After a lengthy investigation, the Braunschweig public prosecutor nevertheless charged him – as did numerous other VW employees, for whom there will be separate negotiations. (dpa / swi)
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