Richter verschärft Anklage im VW-Diesel-Betrugsprozess

© KEYSTONE/dpa/Julian Stratenschulte

Mit dem Prozess gegen mehrere Volkswagen-Mitarbeiter hat vor dem Landgericht Braunschweig die strafrechtliche Aufarbeitung eines der grössten deutschen Wirtschaftsskandale begonnen.

Die Staatsanwaltschaft warf den vier teils ehemaligen Managern und Ingenieuren am Donnerstag zu Prozessbeginn die Bildung einer “Bande zur fortgesetzten Begehung von Straftaten” vor.

Richter Christian Schütze verschärfte im Anschluss überraschend einige Anklagepunkte. Die Angeklagten hätten nicht als Mittäter, sondern als Nebentäter gehandelt. Damit käme ihnen bei der Begehung von Straftaten eine grössere Eigenverantwortung zu.

Das Verfahren gegen den früheren Konzernchef Martin Winterkorn, der wenige Tage nach Bekanntwerden des Skandals im September 2015 zurücktrat, wurde wegen seines Gesundheitszustands abgetrennt. Der 74-Jährige ist nach einer Hüftoperation noch nicht verhandlungsfähig.

Winterkorn war informiert

Nach Überzeugung der Staatsanwaltschaft sollen die Angeklagten von der millionenfachen Dieselmanipulation gewusst, die illegale Abschalteinrichtung mit entwickelt haben beziehungsweise nicht dagegen eingeschritten sein. Ihr Ziel sei gewesen, dem Unternehmen möglichst hohe Gewinne zu verschaffen, um von hohen Bonuszahlungen zu profitierten.

Winterkorn sei spätestens im Mai 2014 über der Existenz der Abgasmanipulation in den USA informiert gewesen, Oberstaatsanwältin Elke Hoppenworth. Dennoch habe er den Verkauf der Fahrzeuge nicht gestoppt und die unlautere Werbung mit dem angeblich sauberen Diesel nicht eingestellt.

Das Gericht hatte den Betrugsvorwurf der Ermittler bei der Zulassung der Anklage vor einem Jahr durch den Gesichtspunkt der Bandenbildung ergänzt. Im äussersten Fall drohen den Angeklagten damit Gefängnisstrafen von bis zu zehn Jahren.

Eine Behandlung als Nebentäter statt Mittäter könnte ebenfalls Auswirkungen auf ein Strafmass haben. Richter Schütze erweiterte zudem den Tatzeitraum.

Vor sechs Jahren aufgeflogen

Aufgeflogen war der Skandal am 18. September 2015 durch die amerikanische Umweltbehörde EPA. Die Behörde drohte dem deutschen Konzern wegen Verstössen gegen US-Umweltgesetze eine Strafe von bis zu 18 Milliarden Dollar an.

Vorausgegangen waren langwierige Untersuchungen und Tests mit VW-Dieselautos in den USA, bis Experten schliesslich auf die Spur der Betrugssoftware in der Motorsteuerung kamen. Diese sorgte dafür, dass die Motoren die Stickoxidgrenzwerte auf dem Prüfstand einhielten, auf der Strasse aber ein Vielfaches dieser giftigen Abgase ausstiessen.

Für Volkswagen ist der Dieselskandal ein finanzielles Desaster. Die Wiedergutmachung kostete Volkswagen bislang mehr als 32 Milliarden Euro, vor allem Strafen und Schadensersatzzahlungen in den USA.

Ein Ende der finanziellen Belastungen ist für den Konzern nicht abzusehen. Weltweit sind noch Schadensersatzklagen von Dieselhaltern anhängig.

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