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Former German President Christian Wulff to be put on trial

Former German President Christian Wulff is to go on trial over some of the allegations against him that led him to step down. However, he is to face reduced charges from those that prosecutors had been seeking.

Christian Wulff is to be tried in a court in Hanover on charges of receiving and granting advantages, according to the 14-page indictment document.

Prosecutors had sought to put the former president on trial for corruption, but the court only approved the less serious charges.

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Former German president faces trial

These relate to a trip by Wulff and his wife to Oktoberfest in Munich in 2008, when the other suspect in the case, film producer David Groenewold, allegedly paid part of the hotel bill. Wulff, who was premier of the state of Lower Saxony at the time, is accused of writing a letter in which he lobbied for grants for a film project.

Prosecutors decided to pursue the case back in April after both Wulff and Groenewold rejected an offer to settle the matter in return for paying a fine of up to 50,000 euros ($65,000). Both said they considered themselves innocent and would fight to clear their names in court. The trial is scheduled to begin on November 1.

If found guilty, the former president could be ordered to pay a fine or face a maximum sentence of three years in jail.

The advantage charges appear to be the only ones the Hanover court believes it can make stick, after a police investigation that looked into allegations regarding full or partial payments Groenewold allegedly made at three expensive hotels in 2007 and 2008, on the northern German island of Sylt and in Munich.

This was part of a wider political corruption probe against Wulff, which also involved a discounted home loan he accepted from the partner of a wealthy business friend.

Wulff stepped down as president in February 2012 amid a scandal over allegations that he had improperly accepted or granted favors while he was still premier. He had only been in office for less than two years, after he replaced Horst Köhler who resigned in 2010.

pfd/hc (dpa, ARD)

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