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Germany

German Politicians to Face Grilling as BND Inquiry Begins

A German parliamentary committee began work Friday on a full probe into the role of German spies in the Iraq war and the country's alleged involvement in the CIA rendition of terror suspects.

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Prominent politicians will face the investigation committee and the TV cameras

Its main task is to answer questions from three opposition parties unhappy with an internal government inquiry that cleared the German intelligence services of any wrongdoing in supplying information to the United States during the invasion of Iraq.

Germany, under the then government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, was officially opposed to the war.

The inquiry by the 11-member panel will also deal with the government's handling of the case of Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin, who was seized by the CIA on suspicion of being a terrorist and detained in Afghanistan for months before being released.

Allegations that German officials questioned terror suspects in Syria and at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay also feature in the dossier of 30 questions.

Schröder and Fischer in the spotlight

Kabinettsitzung: Fischer und Schröder

Fischer and Schröder will return to the public eye

Schröder and former foreign minister Joschka Fischer have been called to give evidence to the investigation. Their appearances are likely to be televised.

The panel will first meet to decide the order in which witnesses will appear.

The two parties which form the current power-sharing government, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, were opposed to holding a full investigation because they believe the internal parliamentary probes answered all the relevant questions.

They also fear such an inquiry could endanger the confidentiality of the secret services.

Opposition parties get their inquiry

But the three opposition parties -- the Free Democrats (FDP); the Left Party; and the Greens, who were government coalition partners at the time of the Iraq war -- represent the quarter of seats in the 614-member chamber required to force a full inquiry.

The panel consists of four Christian Democrats, four Social Democrats and one member of each of the opposition parties. It is chaired by Siegfried Kauder, a Christian Democrat.

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