Ex-German spy chief's arrestcould reopen CDU probe

14th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

14 July 2004 , BERLIN – The arrest of Germany's most wanted fugitive, former spy chief Ludwig-Holger Pfahls, could trigger the reopening of a probe into the huge slush fund scandal of ex-chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats, officials said Wednesday. Pfahls, a former German domestic intelligence chief and deputy defence minister, was arrested in Paris Tuesday after five years on the run. Once the rising star of German security affairs, Pfahls is accused of taking a EUR 1.9 million bribe in connecti

14 July 2004

BERLIN – The arrest of Germany's most wanted fugitive, former spy chief Ludwig-Holger Pfahls, could trigger the reopening of a probe into the huge slush fund scandal of ex-chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats, officials said Wednesday.

Pfahls, a former German domestic intelligence chief and deputy defence minister, was arrested in Paris Tuesday after five years on the run.

Once the rising star of German security affairs, Pfahls is accused of taking a EUR 1.9 million bribe in connection with the sale of tanks to Saudia Arabia in 1991.

The 62-year-old Pfahls - a member of the conservative Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) which ruled Germany under Chancellor Kohl from 1982 to 1998 - fled in 1999 just as the illegal donations scandal enveloped Kohl's party.

His expected trial in Germany may shed new light on the slush fund scandal in which tens of millions of dollars were stashed in secret Swiss bank accounts by then CDU leaders to fund elections. Kohl himself admitted personally taking DEM 2.1 million (EUR 1.07 million) in cash for the party.

The former chancellor, who has gone into history for brokering Germany's 1990 reunification, has never revealed where the money came from because he says he gave his word of honour to the "donor" never to do so.

In a statement on Wednesday, Kohl's lawyer insisted the arrest of Pfahls would have "no consequences" for the former German leader.

"Kohl had nothing to do with this whole story," said lawyer Stephan Holthoff-Pfoertner in a Rheinische Post newspaper interview.

This is partly true given that Pfahls belonged to the CSU, the separate Bavarian wing of Kohl's CDU, and was boosted into high office in Bonn by the late Bavarian premier, Franz Josef Strauss.

But members of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's ruling Social Democrats (SPD) are not so sure.

SPD leader Franz Muentefering left open Wednesday whether the government would seek to reactivate the parliamentary investigation into the scandal, saying only that Berlin would wait before deciding on any possible reopening of the probe.

Volker Beck, a member of the Greens which serve as Schroeder's junior coalition partner, demanded an immediate reopening of the investigation in order to find out, as he put it, if the government had accepted bribes.

The SPD chairman of the former CDU slush fund probe, Volker Neumann, said a new probe should not immediately be launched but said he expected new revelations from Pfahls.

Neumann underlined that a top politician would not go into hiding for five years merely because he was accused of a EUR 1.9 million bribe.

Pfahls served as head of the Bundesverfassungsschutz - the domestic security service - from 1985 to 1987.

From 1987 to 1992 he was a deputy defence minister responsible for a key portfolio including security and alliance policy as well as arms control. Pfahls was also involved with running the top-secret Federal Security Council.

DPA

Subject: German news

 

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