Ex-German spy chief arriveshome to face corruption trial

20th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 January 2005, AUGSBURG - Germany's former spy chief, who was a key figure in a huge slush fund scandal surrounding ex-chancellor Helmut Kohl's conservative party forces was extradited to Germany from France on Thursday.

20 January 2005

AUGSBURG - Germany's former spy chief, who was a key figure in a huge slush fund scandal surrounding ex-chancellor Helmut Kohl's conservative party forces was extradited to Germany from France on Thursday.

Ludwig-Holger Pfahls, 61, who served as state secretary for defence from 1987 to 1992 under Kohl, is accused of taking a massive bribe to facilitate a 1991 sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. 

Germany's ruling Social Democrats seized on Pfahls' extradition as possibly reopening the slush fund scandal that cast a shadow over long years in power.

He was caught last year in Paris after five years on the run from German investigators, was taken to the border by French police and handed over to waiting German police.

Pfahls, a former judge, was one of the high fliers of the former German capital, Bonn. After a term as head of the German domestic counter-espionage agency BfV, he became junior minister at the Defence Ministry.

After retiring from public life in 1992, he joined DaimlerChrysler as a senior executive, first in Brussels and then in Singapore. Then he simply vanished. Last seen in Asia, he stayed out of sight for five years, apparently with a false identity.

Germany put the man who knew some of its most sensitive secrets on the international criminal wanted list.

German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries welcomed the extradition.

She said on Thursday she hoped his testimony would uncover more corruption during his term under Kohl's Christian Democrat-led coalition government. Zypries belongs to the Germany's ruling Social Democrats.

Pfahls, who was finally tracked down last summer in Paris, is set to go on trial in March in the southern German city of Augsburg for bribe-taking and failing to declare the bribe as taxable income.

The state's 2001 indictment says Pfahl received some EUR two million as a bribe from Karlheinz Schreiber, a German lobbyist believed to have set up the armoured- vehicle sale.

Germany, which has strict laws against exporting arms to zones of conflict, approved a sale of 36 Fuchs armoured reconnaissance vehicles to Saudi Arabia despite high-level opposition.

The wheeled ARVs are designed to check battlegrounds for nuclear, biological and chemical poisons before troops deploy. At the time, the Saudis were concerned that they might face a chemical attack from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Pfahls, as a state secretary, had oversight over arms control policy and put his stamp of approval on the deal, worth about EUR 223 million, despite the fact that then Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and German military leaders opposed it.

[Copyright DPA with Expatica 2005]

Subject: German news 

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