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Arms dealer at center of Germany's CDU scandal to face trial

Arms dealer at center of Germany's CDU scandal to face trial

AUGSBURG, Germany -- An arms dealer at the center of the CDU funding scandal which has rocked Germany is to face trial, a judge has ruled.

Karlheinz Schreiber, who has both German and Canadian nationality, will face trial in connection with allegations of bribery involving the sale of armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia, judge Maximilian Hofmeister said in Augsburg. Schreiber is currently fighting extradition from Toronto.

Schreiber is alleged to have made a one million mark ($493,000) payment to top officials in former chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats party in a bid to win government approval for the deal. All members of the former Kohl government have denied the claims.

Two managers of the Thyssen steel group, Juergen Massmann and Winfried Haastert, will also face charges.

The three are expected to go on trial sometime in the first six months of next year and Schreiber could be tried in his absence, Hofmeister said. Details of the charges have not been disclosed.

Former CDU treasurer Walther Kiep, who had been accused of helping Schreiber to evade taxes by accepting the alleged payment, will not face charges, Hofmeister said.

Helmut Kohl is the subject of a criminal investigation following his admission that he accepted more than two million marks in cash to help fund his party during the 1990s. He has repeatedly refused to reveal who supplied the money.

The leader of the CDU who took over from Kohl in 1998, Wolfgang Schaeuble, was forced to resign from the post this year after admitting handling a 100,000 marks ($46,900) donation from Schreiber for the party.



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