BERLIN - Reuters
Former German President Wulff stood down after 20 months in office. REUTERS photo
President Christian Wulff was charged on April 12 with accepting a bribe in exchange for a political favor, a year after a broader corruption probe forced him to resign from the largely ceremonial post.
Wulff was hand-picked by Chancellor Angela Merkel
for the job of head of state in 2010. But he stood down after 20 months when prosecutors said they suspected he had accepted undue privileges and asked Parliament to lift his immunity. Lower Saxony state prosecutors suspect Wulff of lobbying Siemens AG to help market the film “John Rabe” after a movie producer paid Wulff’s expenses during a trip to Munich’s Oktoberfest beer festival in 2008.
The producer, David Groenewold, faces the same charges of corruption and bribery after footing a bill for Wulff totaling thousands of euros, the prosecutors said in a statement. His reputation took a hammering in his time as president when top-selling newspaper Bild accused him of misleading the state assembly over a cheap home loan from a businessman friend.
He later apologized for threatening the editor of Bild with “war” if he published the story. If convicted, Wulff theoretically faces from 6 months to five years in jail.