Former German President Christian Wulff will go on trial today over receiving and granting favors in office.
Christian Wulff, 54, is alleged to have accepted the payment of hotel bills by a film producer in return for lobbying while he was premier of Lower Saxony in 2008.
The former president – who stepped down in February 2012 after less than two years in the post – is Germany’s first head of state to answer charges in court.
Christian Wulff rejects the allegations and has vowed to clear his name.
Film producer David Groenewold also faces similar charges.
The trial is expected to start at 10 a.m. local time in the northern city of Hannover.
Christian Wulff is alleged to have allowed film producer David Groenewold to pay hotel bills in Munich during the Oktoberfest beer festival in 2008 and on the northern island of Sylt in 2007.
In return, Christian Wulff is accused of having lobbied German companies to support David Groenewold’s work.
Christian Wulff is alleged to have accepted the payment of hotel bills by a film producer in return for lobbying while he was premier of Lower Saxony in 2008
Prosecutors had sought to put the former head on trial for corruption, but the court only approved the less serious charges.
If convicted, Christian Wulff faces up to three years in jail or a fine.
Christian Wulff and David Groenewold had rejected an offer from the prosecutor in March to settle the case with a fine – a procedure allowed for cases not considered especially serious.
He resigned amid a welter of unfavorable coverage in the German media dealing with his links to businessmen.
The pressure on him increased at the end of December 2011 with allegations, published in the mass circulation Bild newspaper, about a low interest home loan received from the wife of a wealthy businessman in 2008.
Christian Wulff was accused of giving misleading statements about the loan and later apologised to the editor of Bild, Kai Diekmann, for leaving an angry message on his voicemail threatening him if the story was published.
Chancellor Angela Merkel had pushed strongly to get Christian Wulff, from her centre-right CDU party, appointed to the largely ceremonial post in 2010.
At the time of his resignation, Angela Merkel said she accepted it “with respect but also with regret” and that she was convinced he had “acted legally”.
President Christian Wulff was succeeded by the Lutheran pastor and former East German anti-communist campaigner, Joachim Gauck.
Google has been ordered by a German federal court to clean up the auto-complete results its search engine suggests.
The court said Google must ensure terms generated by auto-complete are not offensive or defamatory.
The court case was started by an unnamed German businessman who found that Google.de linked him with “scientology” and “fraud”.
Google must now remove defamatory word combinations when told about them, said the court.
A person’s privacy would be violated if the associations conjured up by auto-complete were untrue, the federal court said in a statement about the ruling.
However, it added, this did not mean that Google had to sanitize its entire index.
Bettina Wulff, wife of former German president Christian Wulff, sued Google because auto-complete suggested words linking her to escort services
“The operator is, as a basic principle, only responsible when it gets notice of the unlawful violation of personal rights,” it said.
The ruling on auto-complete overturns two earlier decisions by lower German courts.
In the past, Google has defended itself by arguing that it has no control over the combinations of words that auto-complete suggests. Instead, it said, these were automatically generated by the frequency with which other people were looking for such keywords.
A Google spokesman said he was “disappointed and surprised” by the court’s decision, in an interview with Bloomberg. He said it was “incomprehensible” that Google was going to be held liable for the searches carried out by users.
The ruling could also have a bearing on another case involving auto-complete. Bettina Wulff, wife of former German president Christian Wulff, sued Google because auto-complete suggested words linking her to escort services.
Bettina Wulff denies ever working as a prostitute and has fought several legal cases over the accusation. The case against Google is due to be heard soon in a Hamburg court.
Bettina Wulff, wife of former German President Christian Wulff, has included Google in legal action to stop rumors about her private life.
When the name Bettina Wulff is typed into Google’s search engine, suggested search terms include the words “prostitute” and “red light district”.
Google says the auto-generated text reflects what others are already searching for online.
Bettina Wulff denies she has ever worked as a prostitute.
Bettina Wulff, wife of former German President Christian Wulff, has included Google in legal action to stop rumors about her private life
German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported Bettina Wulff had given a sworn declaration denying all allegations relating to prostitution or escort work before her marriage.
The rumors have spread both online and in various media outlets.
It has been reported they were started in order to disrupt her husband Christian Wulff’s political career.
German newspaper Die Spiegel reports she has spent over two years fighting allegations she was once employed as an escort.
“Her lawyers have already issued 34 successful cease-and-desist orders, including one against a prominent German television personality this weekend,” the paper notes.
The same paper says a defamation suit was launched against Google last week.
Google Northern Europe spokeswoman Kay Oberbeck said the site’s search terms were “algorithmically generated” and “include the popularity of the entered search terms”.
“All terms that appear have been previously entered by Google users,” she added in a statement.
The same text generates in rival search engine Bing.com.
In March 2012 Google was ordered to disable the autocomplete function relating to search results for an unnamed man in Japan, who said his name was being associated with crimes he had not committed.