VW Diesel fraud process continues without Winterkorn

Braunschweig (dpa) – It remains the same: Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn does not initially have to appear at the Braunschweig regional court in the diesel fraud case against former executives.

The recently opened main hearing, in four other managers and senior engineers are also indicted, will continue without the ex-CEO for the time being. This results from a decision of the Braunschweig Higher Regional Court (OLG), which became known on Wednesday. Winterkorn thus retains the status of “separately persecuted” in the criminal complex.

This was preceded by a complaint from the public prosecutor’s office. The prosecutors wanted to see the long-time VW boss in court as soon as possible and had criticized a decision to separate the district court at its sessions. Now the OLG, as the higher authority, rejected the objections. The first negotiation dates with Winterkorn should therefore only be scheduled for a later, currently still open time. The reason for the split was that the former top manager was considered unable to interrogate after a hip operation.

The presiding judge at the regional court had argued that in this situation the other defendants should nevertheless be started as soon as possible . The First Criminal Senate of the Higher Regional Court cited this “acceleration and concentration” as a reason for not admitting the prosecution’s complaint. «Due to the established incapacity of the defendant Winterkorn, the duration of which cannot be reliably predicted at the moment, the scheduled start of the trial would have been on 16. 09. 2021 without the separation also against the other defendants will have to be postponed for the foreseeable future ”, it said in a message.

Both the defense lawyers of the four Men already before the court as well as the public prosecutors had sharply attacked the chairman because of the adjournment in the Winterkorn case. While the lawyers fear that the allegations against their clients will be mixed up with those against the ex-corporate executive and thus a possible pre-distribution, the prosecution wants Winterkorn to get involved personally as soon as possible. It is about alleged commercial and gang fraud in connection with millions of manipulated diesel cars.

Winterkorn has long been considered badly ill. In essence, a medical report temporarily exempted those living in Munich from being in Braunschweig. Investigators have already reported that this may have to be checked again, possibly by calling in a medical officer.

Other critics also do not want to rule out the possibility that Winterkorn’s participation in the process will be more and more delayed. The OLG could not see any errors in the decision of the colleagues from the regional court. This is based “on a comprehensive and careful exercise of discretion”. The Economic Criminal Chamber had also examined whether the entire proceedings against all five could be postponed.

Recently, doubts had increased as to whether the criminal process that had been in preparation for years could be continued. For the main hearing, the regional court initially set 133 days until the summer 2023.

Subject matter of the proceedings (Ref .: 6 KLs 23 / 19) were further statements from one of the four ex-executives present on Wednesday. The defendant reported for several hours on internal mails, minutes and documents from the autumn 2007. At that time, difficulties had accumulated before the introduction of a “clean diesel” on the US market. In September 2015 the deceptions were discovered there.

There were a lot of problems in the project «US 07 », Said the former head of VW engine development. But according to him, the so-called acoustic function played no particular role. As far as he can remember, there has never been a presentation at which it was presented separately. In the context of the «Dieselgate» investigations, the concept of this function is a kind of cover for the program, which only fully activated exhaust gas cleaning in tests.

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