Visa scandal probe halted in run-up to elections

2nd June 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 June 2005, BERLIN - A probe into allegations that German foreign minister Joschka Fischer allowed illegal visas to be given to hundreds of thousands of foreigners was halted on Thursday by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's centre-left government.

2 June 2005

BERLIN - A probe into allegations that German foreign minister Joschka Fischer allowed illegal visas to be given to hundreds of thousands of foreigners was halted on Thursday by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's centre-left government.

The move comes as Germany gears up for early elections sought by Schroeder which are expected to be held on 18 September.

Fischer is at the centre of the visa scandal in which up to a million visas were given to people from countries including Ukraine and Albania under a relaxed German visa regime in place from 2000 to 2003.

The government abruptly cancelled the programme in 2003 after reports of massive abuse by people seeking to work illegally in the European Union and by gangs which allegedly brought women to Germany and then forced them into prostitution.

Schroeder's Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Greens coalition ally used their majority to halt the parliamentary investigation.

The opposition Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU), which currently has a big lead over Schroeder's government in opinion polls, said it might seek a high court ruling to keep the visa probe open.

DPA

Subject: German news

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