German ex-president Christian Wulff cleared of influence-peddling charge
A court yesterday cleared former German president Christian Wulff of influence-peddling, closing a high-profile case that sparked his resignation two years ago.
"The accused Wulff has been found not guilty," judge Frank Rosenow told Hanover regional court, adding that Wulff was entitled to compensation for police searches in the investigation.
The verdict marked the end of a legal and political drama around the one-time conservative rising star, who fell from power and grace amid claims he took favours from rich friends and tried to bully the media into silence.
Wulff, 54, who had been Germany's youngest-ever president, had insisted on his innocence and last year rejected an offer to settle the case with a €20,000 (HK$212,000) fine, vowing instead to clear his name and honour.
Compared to political scandals elsewhere, the charges seemed trifling to many, as prosecutors built a case around payments that amounted to just over €700.
The sum is made up of hotel room and babysitting costs and a restaurant meal that film producer David Groenewold, 40, allegedly paid for the Wulff family during a joint visit to Munich for the 2008 Oktoberfest.
Wulff was accused of influence peddling because he later lobbied the then CEO of industrial conglomerate Siemens, Peter Loescher, for support for a Groenewold movie project, the 2009 wartime drama John Rabe.
Since his exit from the largely ceremonial office in February 2012, Wulff has lived in relative seclusion, again drawing heavy media attention when he separated from the glamorous former first lady Bettina Wulff.