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Business

Mannesmann Defendants Closer to Acquittal

The judge presiding over Germany's first trial over executive pay -- the so-called "Mannesmann trial" -- has said the case against Deutsche Bank head Josef Ackermann, the former CEO of Vodaphone, and five former directors at Mannesmann will be thrown out unless prosecutors come up with more evidence. The judge, Brigitte Koppenhoefer, made the statement on Wednesday, following a mid-trial review. She said prosecutors had yet to prove that Ackermann offered excessive bonuses amounting to bribes to the top executives at Mannesmann in order to smooth over a takeover bid by Vodaphone in early 2000. Koppenhoefer said there was not enough evidence to support the central criminal charge of breach of trust to shareholders, though there was some evidence of lesser violations of share law. The trial, which has been underway for two months, will continue.