Because of health problems: The start of the "Dieselgate" process is shaky

Because of health problems
Beginning of "Dieselgate" process wobbles

The main trial against Winterkorn in the exhaust gas scandal has been in preparation for a long time – now the start date could be postponed. The ex-VW boss should not be doing well. It is therefore doubtful whether he can appear in court in a few weeks.

The fraud trial against Martin Winterkorn planned from the end of February could be postponed due to health problems of the former Volkswagen CEO. The Regional Court of Braunschweig stated that the competent chamber had obtained expert advice on the defendant's ability to stand trial. The public procedure in which Winterkorn's role in the diesel emissions affair is to be investigated could therefore only start with a delay. However, the court did not comment on specific details and deadlines.

From Winterkorn's environment it was said that ultimately the Braunschweig Economic Criminal Chamber must decide on the further termination. The "Süddeutsche Zeitung" and the Norddeutsche Rundfunk had previously reported on the development. According to the planning so far, the main negotiation, which has been prepared for a long time, is to begin on February 25th and should continue until at least spring 2023.

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<p class=Martin Winterkorn, here in November 2018, is now said to be in a wheelchair.

(Photo: picture alliance / dpa)

Last October, the regional court had already drawn up an initial overview of the dates, which could now, however, falter – according to reports, possibly by up to several months. The 73-year-old Winterkorn is said to be sitting in a wheelchair. He is also reportedly facing an important operation that could further disrupt the courtroom's timing. In the "Dieselgate" trial, four other executives are charged with charges of commercial and gang fraud.

In September 2015, VW admitted tampering with emissions levels after inspections by authorities in the USA. The software of certain engines was set in such a way that significantly more toxic nitrogen oxides were emitted on the road than in tests. The revelations kicked off the diesel scandal, which has cost the company well over 30 billion euros in legal expenses to date. In addition, a deep crisis of confidence gripped the entire automotive industry.

Winterkorn is "not aware of any wrongdoing"

Winterkorn resigned shortly after the manipulations were exposed. 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 not known about illegal deception beforehand. The Braunschweig public prosecutor's office nevertheless charged him after a lengthy investigation. In the meantime, rumors of a possible termination of the proceedings had also made the rounds because the prosecutors had to rework some points.

With a view to a possible postponement, the district court declared: "The ability of a defendant to stand trial requires his ability to sensibly perceive his interests inside or outside the hearing, to conduct the defense in an intelligible and understandable manner, and to issue and receive legal statements." If this ability is limited, pauses or interruptions could also be an option to go through the procedure. The question is, however, whether this would be realistic in the plan initially set with several appointments per week over many months and given Winterkorn's constitution. Experts help to assess this. In the end, however, the court has to decide.

Winterkorn also has to be prepared for a process for alleged market manipulation in the emissions scandal. The dates for this were not known recently. A market manipulation procedure against the current VW group boss Herbert Diess and against the former CFO and current supervisory board chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch was set against the payment of 9 million euros.

. (tagsToTranslate) economy (t) Volkswagen (t) exhaust gas scandal (t) Martin Winterkorn (t) processes