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Report says Kohl will get off with fine

Germany’s former leader will not face trial, magazine says

SHARE Report says Kohl will get off with fine

BERLIN — Prosecutors looking into criminal charges against Helmut Kohl for his role in a party financing scandal will end their investigation soon and levy a $96,000 fine on the former chancellor, a magazine reported Saturday.

Der Spiegel reported that while Bonn prosecutors believe they have gathered enough evidence to prove breach of trust charges, they say Kohl's independent fund-raising action to compensate for fines caused by his illegally received donations demonstrates he has tried to set things right.

A spokesman for the Bonn prosecutor's office, Bernd Koenig, declined to comment on the report, saying by telephone that a decision on ending the investigation could likely take several weeks.

Kohl admitted in December that he accepted some $960,000 in anonymous donations in the 1990s, saying the money was given to help his party in former communist East Germany. He has steadfastly refused to name the donors, despite demands from his own Christian Democratic party and parliament investigators, saying he gave his word.

Kohl's attorney said earlier this week that the ex-chancellor would be willing to pay a fine for his role in the scandal if prosecutors closed the case, allowing him to avoid a conviction.

Earlier this year, Kohl launched an independent fund-raising campaign to cover potential fines for his anonymous donations. Last month, he transferred the more than $3.8 million collected so far to the party.

The first fines against the party directly related to Kohl's actions came this week, when parliament President Wolfgang Thierse ordered the Christian Democrats to repay the amount Kohl illegally collected by Aug. 21. Under sanctions provided by German law, the Christian Democrats also must forfeit twice the amount accepted by Kohl — or $2.1 million — in matching campaign funds.

As Kohl looks to escape the scandal without going to trial, he also gained further support for his return to a greater role in his party.

Joining calls of other party members, the governor of Hesse state also told Spiegel that Kohl should be speak again at public events.

Kohl is a "pillar of the Christian Democratic party and its history," Roland Koch said.

Kohl has been invited to an Oct. 3 ceremony in Dresden on the 10th anniversary of German reunification — his crowning achievement — but has not been asked to speak.