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Swiss court to announce decision next week on German request for legal aid

A court in canton Nidwalden says it will not announce its decision until next week on whether to extend legal assistance to German prosecutors investigating secret donations to the Christian Democratic Union.

This content was published on January 28, 2000 - 07:16

A court in canton Nidwalden says it will not announce its decision until next week on whether to extend legal assistance to German prosecutors investigating secret donations to the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

The court froze a German request for assistance after some of those named in the case lodged an appeal.

The German authorities are seeking information about a number of bank accounts in Switzerland, which are alleged to belong to people who benefited from commissions on a German arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

The request comes after investigators in Germany drew a blank during a probe into the source of secret donations to the CDU.

On Thursday, the Premier of the German state of Hesse, Roland Koch, revealed that the CDU had sent more than 19 million marks abroad during the 1980s.

His comments come after auditors for the CDU said they had found at least nine million Swiss francs worth of suspicious party funds - but that the party's accounts did not show where they came from.

Some of those named in the German request for assistance have lodged a complaint with the court in canton Nidwalden, seeking to prevent details about their accounts being disclosed to German prosecutors.

The investigating magistrate in canton Nidwalden has refused to name the complainants. However, two of them are thought to be a former German state secretary in the defence ministry, Ludwig-Holger Pfahls, and a German arms dealer, Karlheinz Schreiber.

Switzerland has already provided some information about the two men to the German authorities. Pfahls is wanted for corruption and tax evasion, while Schreiber is thought to have arranged the sale of 36 German tanks to Saudi Arabia in 1991. In that same year, Schreiber handed over one million marks in cash to a CDU official in Switzerland.

German investigators are hoping that clues to the identity of the donors may come from Switzerland.

From staff and wire reports

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