Chief Public Prosecutor is himself on trial for corruption

In life you always meet at least twice. In more than 20 years of service, Alexander B. will likely be seen frequently in the corridors of the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office and in the courts of the senior public prosecutors Gisela Leimeister and Michael Loer Hesse to have met. There were also several contacts with Werner Gröschel, the presiding judge. But on this Friday morning at the Frankfurt district court, a phase of life ends for the 55-year-old lawyer B. – and a new one begins.

With a folder over his handcuffed hands, B. entered the courtroom at the Frankfurt Regional Court around 10 a.m. Then he takes a seat, not on the side he has been familiar with for so long. For the coming months, the second row in the dock, alongside his defense attorney Andreas Hohnel, is intended for him: the trial against Alexander B. and a co-defendant businessman begins in front of the Great Criminal Court. The public prosecutor accuses the two men of commercial bribery, infidelity and tax evasion.

Corruption fighters in the dock

What is explosive from the point of view of the Hessian judiciary: Alexander B. is very familiar with the offenses that he has been accused of on the basis of lengthy investigations. For years he was senior public prosecutor and head of the Hessian “Central Office for Combating Property Crimes and Corruption in the Health Care System”, which he helped set up. He was extremely well-known in the field, and B. was also very present in the national media in his function as press spokesman for the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor’s Office. But now B., currently suspended senior public prosecutor, is a defendant in a prominent white collar crime. His case made waves and plunged the Hessian judiciary into a deep crisis of confidence.

B. has been in custody since the summer of 2020, with only a short break. There is also a risk of collusion, i.e. the possibility that he could influence witnesses and the criminal proceedings. The tension of having to appear as a suspect at his old place of work can be seen in B., who is dressed entirely in black. During the reading of the indictment, which lasted several hours, he hardly ever lifted his eyes. Between 2015 and his arrest in mid-2020, he is said to have received a total of around 350,000 euros in bribes from an entrepreneur friend and another company that also specializes in data processing for the judiciary.

Nothing noticed for years

According to the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office, he embezzled almost 650,000 euros at the expense of the state treasury because he had signed the excessive bills and even commissioned the preparation of parts of his indictment externally. Obviously, B.’s planned action was not noticed for a long time because the public prosecutor’s office had failed to carry out an internal audit since 2013.

Representatives of Transparency Germany are therefore calling for fundamental consequences beyond the specific case at the start of the trial against Alexander B. “The corruption scandal in the Hessian public prosecutor’s office clearly shows the need for preventive control measures to avoid corruption, especially in the judiciary,” says board member Heribert Hirte. The case undermines trust in the third power, which is of great importance for the rule of law, emphasizes the former CDU right-wing politician. The trial against B. is scheduled to end in March, and more than 20 witnesses are to be heard.

Source link