German Prosecutors Are Investigating Right-wing Extremist Lawmakers for Bribery - Latest Global News

German Prosecutors Are Investigating Right-wing Extremist Lawmakers for Bribery

German prosecutors on Thursday launched an investigation into a lawmaker from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party on suspicion of bribery and money laundering and searched several properties.

According to dpa information, it is Petr Bystron, the party’s second candidate for the European elections in June. The Bundestag had lifted Bystron’s immunity.

The Munich public prosecutor’s office announced that searches were planned at Bystron’s office in Berlin, several locations in Bavaria in the districts of Munich, Erding and Deggendorf as well as on the Spanish island of Mallorca during the course of Thursday.

According to the report, 11 prosecutors and around 70 Bavarian police officers were on duty.

The property of witnesses who are not accused in the trial was also searched, said a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office. The main aim was to confiscate documents and data carriers in order to search them for evidence, he said.

Bystron has been chairman of the AfD’s Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag since 2017. Since 2021, he has also been his party’s foreign policy spokesman and its representative at the Council of Europe and the Interparliamentary Union of Global Parliaments.

Bystron itself could not initially be reached for comment.

The Munich public prosecutor’s office pointed out that the presumption of innocence applies until a possible conviction.

Bystron and another leading AfD politician, Maximilian Krah, have been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks because of alleged ties to pro-Russian networks. After media reports about possible payments to both politicians, the public prosecutor’s office recently examined whether an investigation should be initiated.

Krah, a member of the European Parliament, is the AfD’s top candidate for the European elections in June.

In March, the Czech Republic placed the pro-Russian Internet platform Voice of Europe (VoE) on its national sanctions list following an intelligence agency investigation that included interviews with Bystron and Krah.

The site is said to have been part of a Russian influence operation aimed at questioning Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and freedom. A Czech newspaper had reported that Bystron may also have accepted money.

Based on these and other reports, the Munich public prosecutor’s office initiated a so-called preliminary investigation in the Bystron case to check whether there was an initial suspicion of criminal behavior in connection with the bribery of lawmakers.

According to dpa information, the investigations that have now been initiated relate to the allegations in connection with VoE.

The law enforcement agency in Dresden had also initiated an investigation into possible payments from China against Krah, who comes from the eastern German city, and another person.

In addition, Krah’s former employee Jian G was arrested on suspicion of spying for China. In connection with the investigation against G., the German public prosecutor’s office had Krah’s offices and those of his former colleague in the European Parliament in Brussels searched last week.

The AfD leadership continues to stand by its two European election candidates.

After a short break, Krah is taking part in election campaign appearances again and in the Bystron case, party leaders Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla only briefly stated in writing on Thursday: “The lifting of immunity and the search of Petr Bystron’s office and private rooms are a serious problem.” Subject. “

So far, no evidence has been presented to support the allegations that have been made against Bystron for weeks, it said.

The AfD parliamentary group hopes that the investigation will be concluded quickly, “so that there is no suspicion that attempts are being made to influence the European election campaign by authorities and public prosecutors who are bound by instructions.”

The AfD was polling around 20% across the country as it was deeply dissatisfied with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s three-party coalition, but after a series of recent scandals support has fallen to between 16% and 18%.

The AfD’s signature issue is a tough anti-immigration stance, and the party is benefiting from increasing concerns among many German voters about the increasing number of people seeking asylum in the country.

At the beginning of the week, a regional court ruled that German secret services could classify the AfD as a suspected extremist group. The party announced that it would appeal the verdict.

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