The first major fraud case regarding the emissions scandal at Volkswagen is currently characterized by statements with gaps in memory and criticism of the public prosecutor's office. Several defense lawyers criticized the disclosure of information by the public prosecutor.
Some are informed late, some questions are first answered in the negative and shortly thereafter in the affirmative, said a lawyer in the trial at the Braunschweig regional court. "We can't conduct a procedure like this," he said. "That's an impossibility," agreed a colleague.
Four ex-executives charged
For almost a year, the proceedings against four former executives of the car manufacturer have been progressing rather slowly. The accused are accused, among other things, of commercial and gang fraud with deceptive programs in the exhaust gas control of millions of diesel cars. The manipulations known as "Dieselgate" were exposed in autumn 2015. All of the defendants in the trial have denied primary responsibility for the scandal.
In response to criticism of the way the prosecutor's office worked, presiding judge Christian Schütz renewed his call for essential information to be shared with all those involved in the trial. Similar allegations had been made earlier in the course of the proceedings. It was initially unclear whether the public prosecutor's office would react with a statement.
In terms of content, the process was continued with the statement of a public prosecutor, who reported, among other things, from a witness hearing in 2016. As an interrogator, the 58-year-old spoke to a VW lawyer responsible for product safety that year. She admitted that six years after this interrogation, the memories are not fresh. On the basis of protocols, however, she reproduced some of the content of the conversation about which the 2016 interviewee also spoke with the former VW boss Martin Winterkorn.
Details on Winterkorn
Later, the prosecutor also reported from interviews with a VW employee who dealt with approval issues. Among other things, he is said to have reported on Winterkorn's outburst of anger lasting several minutes after the Notice of Violation, i.e. the announcement of the violations by US authorities, on September 18, 2015. Winterkorn was therefore upset that he had not been informed. On September 23, 2015, Winterkorn stepped down as CEO. The former CEO had admitted to manipulation at Volkswagen in the past, but always denied any responsibility.
However, descriptions like those of the witness to the emissions affair at VW are often only second-hand. Since the majority of the witnesses who are regarded as authoritative recently made use of their right to refuse to testify, individual prosecutors should report from their own important witness interviews. Since these are now several years ago, memory gaps are currently omnipresent in the process. The process is scheduled to continue this Wednesday (9:00 a.m.). Overall, dates are scheduled until January 2024.