BERLIN — Christian Wulff, a former German president and onetime ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel who quit over allegations of accepting favors from wealthy friends while serving as a governor, will become the first former head of state in the country’s postwar history to stand trial.
The Hanover state court said Tuesday that it had opened proceedings against Wulff on charges of
illegally accepting favors while serving as governor of Lower Saxony and set Nov. 1 as the opening trial date. If found guilty, the former president could be fined or face up to three years in prison.
The court’s announcement comes as the campaign for Germany’s Sept. 22 election begins to heat up.
The charges center on a weekend during the Munich Oktoberfest in September 2008. Prosecutors accuse Wulff, who was governor at the time, of allowing a friend and filmmaker, David Groenewold, to pick up the tab for two dinners, a night at a luxury hotel, and a baby sitter for his young son. In exchange for the favors, which amounted to about $1,000, Wulff is said to have lobbied the head of Siemens to back a project for which Groenewold was seeking financing.