Former CSV leader acquitted of fraud and forgery charges
The former head of Luxembourg’s main opposition party, Frank Engel, was acquitted of charges including fraud and forgery on Thursday, with six other members of the Christian Democrat Party (CSV) also cleared, in a case connected to an allegedly fictitious €40,000 per annum party job.
It is not yet known if prosecutors, who had called for a suspended jail sentence and fine for the politician, will appeal the ruling.
The case centred on an allegation that the CSV Frëndeskrees non-profit group, which manages the party's headquarters, had paid Engel €40,000 to recruit people to the group.
The prosecution had alleged that the post was in effect a fake job, and claimed that the work contract between was designed for the sole purpose of providing an income to the party chief after he stopped receiving a salary as an MEP.
But Engel, and six other party members who were aware of the contract including former party secretary general Félix Eischen and ex-treasurer André Martins, were acquitted of all charges at a hearing on Thursday.
Party members reported him to the prosecution in March, costing the 46-year old his job at the head of the party that ruled the country for decades. He previously said the case against him was politically motivated and repeated that claim after the verdict on Thursday.
"The Luxembourg judiciary has shown that it is not ready to lead political trials," said Engel.
Prosecutors had asked for a nine-month suspended jail sentence and a fine for Engel who also stood accused of breach of trust - entering a contract in bad faith - and money laundering.