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Swiss court sets precedent with ruling over CDU funding scandal

The Federal Court has ruled that Switzerland can provide legal assistance to a parliamentary commission in Germany investigating the Christian Democratic Union funding scandal. The decision serves as a precedent for legal cooperation.

The court's decision means the Swiss judicial authorities can now hand over documents concerning Swiss bank accounts belonging to a German arms dealer, Karlheinz Schreiber.

Schreiber, considered a key figure in the funding scandal, is suspected of bribery in connection with a German arms deal with Saudi Arabia. He is thought to have arranged the sale of 36 German tanks to the Saudi government in 1991.

In that same year, he handed over about SFr800,000 in cash to a CDU official in Switzerland. Germany has requested Schreiber's extradition from Canada, where he is in detention.

Switzerland has already provided public prosecutors in the German city of Augsburg with the bank documents. However, Schreiber appealed to the Swiss Federal Court against a decision by the Swiss Federal Police in March to make them available to the parliamentary commission in Berlin as well.

The court rejected arguments by Schreiber's defence claiming that Swiss law forbids the granting of legal assistance to parliamentary commissions.

The court's decision serves as a precedent: it said documents already seized as part of a criminal investigation could be passed on in future cases.

swissinfo with agencies

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