The Mönchengladbach District Court pronounces a two-and-a-half-year verdict today against the former pastor and leader of the Community of Congregations in Hückelhoven.
The clergyman is accused and prosecuted of commercial embezzlement and money laundering in dozens of cases.
The former head of the community of churches in Hückelhoven is charged before the Mönchengladbach District Court.
In total, the now 60-year-old is said to have withdrawn around 100,000 Euros from parish accounts.
In court, the former priest had made a comprehensive confession a few days ago.
According to this, he had been contacted by a Nigerian priest who had asked for financial support for social projects. “I made transfers for various projects out of a mixture of naivety and imprudent action," the defendant explained in court.
Defendant: Probably became a victim of fraud himself
In his confession, the ex-pastor emphasized that the donation requests had apparently been fakes. He had become a victim of fraud himself and had regularly transferred sums of money from the donation and collection accounts of the (German town) Hückelhoven parishes abroad since 2016.
He had made a mistake and did not want to enrich himself, the priest explained. "I only became aware of the dimension of the problem when the accusation of money laundering arose," he said.
Priest with high debts of his own, but apparently the priest also wanted to improve his own financial situation. The 60-year-old has debts of around 200,000 euros. He admitted after repeated inquiries of the district court and the public prosecutor's office that he wanted to balance his debts.
Mild punishment expected after confession based on his confession, the accused could get away with a comparatively mild punishment. The public prosecutor's office has demanded a prison sentence of two and a half years and the confiscation of a so-called value replacement amounting to 98,000 euros.
For a time, the former priest was in pre-trial detention but has since been released. Even if he is convicted, he is likely to leave the courtroom a free man.
The priest is no stranger to justice
In August 2020, he was arrested in Belgium, at the Brussels' Zaventem Airport. He had three kilograms of heroin in his luggage. He had to serve a prison sentence in Belgium before being extradited to Germany at the beginning of this year.