EU Parliament revokes immunity for ex-AfD head | News | DW | 15.02.2022

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EU Parliament revokes immunity for ex-AfD head

The move by EU lawmakers allows a probe against Jörg Meuthen over the alleged acceptance of illegal donations to go ahead. The lawmaker recently left the populist German AfD party, saying it was moving to the far right.

Jörg Meuthen sat in the European Parliament during a session

Jörg Meuthen said he also voted to lift his immunity

Jörg Meuthen, the former co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, has lost his delegate immunity in the European Parliament following a vote by fellow lawmakers, the EU announced on Tuesday.

There is now nothing standing in the way of a criminal investigation into claims that Meuthen illegally accepted money to fund an AfD election campaign in the state of Baden-Württemberg in 2016.

The lawmaker, who stepped down from his role as AfD co-chair in January after over six years in the job, claimed he had also voted to remove his own immunity.

"I already vowed to cooperate fully and unconditionally with the Berlin public prosecutor's office early last year," he said.

What are the allegations against Meuthen?

The German lawmaker has been accused of trying to cover up an illegal party donation of around €90,000 ($102,000) from a Swiss PR company. It is illegal for German parties to receive funds from outside of the EU.

Meuthen, who was the speaker for the far-right AfD in the Bundestag at the time, failed to "clearly disclose" the origin of the money in the party's accounts report for the year 2016, according to an EU report.

According to an investigation by the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, the donation was made to appear as if it was coming from several legal donors who in fact did not exist.

Spiegel also suggested that the original donor is a Swiss property billionaire.

The party has already been fined €269,400 for the acceptance of donations from anonymous sources.

Public prosecutors in Berlin have followed up on their initial suspicions of illegal activity by Meuthen, and with the lifting of his immunity can now move ahead with formal investigations.

Meuthen and the AfD

The former leader of the far-right party said his departure from the party in January was down to its continuous lurch to the right.

Meuthen had represented the more moderate wing of the party, but membership has increasingly centered around the more extreme-right wing under the leadership of Björn Höcke.

Meuthen denied claims that his resignation had anything to do with the investigation, a theory put forward by his once co-leader Alice Weidel.

Meuthen has previously stated he believes the investigation into the illegal donation will clear his name.

Watch video 02:54

Far-right AfD still holds wide appeal in east

ab/dj (dpa, AFP)