Prosecutors in Hanover on Friday filed corruption charges against former German President Christian Wulff, a prominent figure from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.
Mr. Wulff is alleged to have accepted a stay in a luxury hotel during the 2008 Oktoberfest in Munich from a film producer friend, David Groenewold, whom he had helped by lobbying the conglomerate Siemens to provide money for a movie project.
Mr. Wullf, who has strongly denied the accusations, was at the time the premier of Lower Saxony. He was appointed to the largely ceremonial post of President in July 2010 and stepped down in February 2012 amid a series of corruption allegations.
The charges against Mr. Wulff, whose appointment was backed by Ms. Merkel, are the latest in a series of political embarrassments for the Government ahead of national elections due in September. They include the resignations of two top Cabinet Ministers over claims they plagiarised their university doctorates.
The decision by the public prosecutor comes after Mr. Wulff, 53, ruled out a deal where he would pay a fine of 20,000 Euros (26,105 dollars) in exchange for having the charges dropped. Instead, he has vowed to fight the claims in court in a bid to clear his name.
Prosecutors said it was probable that Mr. Groenewold’s payment of hospitality in Munich “was done with the intention of encouraging the accused Wulff to use his office as premier of Lower Saxony to approach Siemens for support in the marketing of the film John Rabe.” Hamburg-born John Rabe was a Siemens official in China during the Japanese invasion in 1937.
The Hanover regional court now has to decide whether to hold a trial against Mr. Wulff based on the charges.
“We are now considering which chamber is responsible,” court spokesman Martin Grote told DPA. “It will probably take several months before it is known whether there will be a trial.” Mr. Grote said Mr. Wulff would be given time to submit comments on the charges.