Lawmakers set to launch secret probe into Dieschbourg scandal
Luxembourg lawmakers moved toward lifting an ex-government minister's immunity against prosecution after she resigned last week over claims environmental protections were skirted to benefit a political ally.
The parliament's internal governing body proposed on Monday that lawmakers back a resolution instructing judicial police to interview former Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg, a press release said. The investigation into her actions are to be kept secret from the public, but all lawmakers would have access to information it develops, the parliament's staff said in the statement.
The step was required because Luxembourg's constitution prohibits judiciary authorities from investigating, questioning and indicting a current or former member of the government. Only the Chamber of Deputies can accuse government officials. That could come after the investigation's findings are complete, though Dieschbourg is part of the governing coalition that holds a parliamentary majority.
"Like every citizen, a minister or ex-minister has the right to fair and just treatment" and that starts with the police interview, lawmaker Gilles Roth, co-leader of the opposition CSV party's parliamentary group, told Luxemburger Wort. Parliament is expected to review Monday's decision shortly and then vote on whether to allow judiciary investigators to question Dieschbourg.
She resigned on Friday after the public prosecutor's office asked that parliament lift her immunity in an investigation into a 2019 building permit approved by her ministry. The Environment Ministry retroactively approved the construction of a large garden shed in a protected nature zone by the former mayor of Differdange, who like Dieschbourg was a Green party member.
Dieschbourg said last week she welcomed explaining her role to investigators. Multiple lawmakers emphasised that the former minister enjoys the same benefit as anyone under law to be presumed innocent of wrongdoing.
"Since 2019, personally and through my lawyer, I have repeatedly emphasised that I support this investigation," Dieschbourg said in a statement last week.
She had previously drawn scrutiny over a €100 million contract her ministry handed to a waste management company despite a legal opinion that found there was no legal basis to award the tender.
It is rare in Luxembourg for a government minister embroiled in a scandal to offer their resignation, even though it is common in other countries such as Germany. Prime Minister Xavier Bettel brushed off criticism earlier this year when journalists revealed that he plagiarised the vast majority of his academic thesis. Bettel, who then urged the University of Nancy to rescind his postgraduate degree, continued in his leadership role despite anger from opposition parties.