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Germany ex-president goes on trial for corruption

Former German president Christian Wulff [official profile] went on trial Thursday in Hanover, denying allegations of corruption. In court, Wulff delivered a statement, insisting [AP report, video] that he acted without fault. Prosecutors charged Wulff with corruption stemming from his 2008 visit to the Munich Oktoberfest beer festival during which prosecutors allege he accepted some €700 for a hotel stay and meals. State prosecutors allege [JURIST report] that film producer David Groenewold, who was seeking financial support for a film project, covered Wulff's hotel and meal expenses worth €719 (USD $960) in exchange for a letter supporting Groenewold's film project. Wulff is Germany's first post-war president to go on trial.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel [official website, in German] selected Wulff to fill the largely ceremonial role of president in 2010. In 2011 German media sources accused Wulff of accepting a €500,000 (USD $650,000) low interest home loan from the wife of German businessman Egon Geerkens. Wulff reportedly gave false statements [BBC report] about the loan in front of parliament, leading to his resignation in February 2012. Corruption has been an issue in Germany in the past. In 2007 Germany introduced draft legislation [JURIST report] to tighten anti-corruption laws on the heels of scandals at Volkswagen AG and Siemens AG. The law sought to increase public prosecutors' power to investigate corruption of a broader range of implicated employees, and to allow employees of foreign corporations to be indicted in Germany.

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