Former asylum official goes on trial in Germany

The former head of a refugee office in Germany’s Bremen went on trial on Thursday, three years after she left the post accused of misconduct.

The scandal made national headlines for days and ignited a major debate about the asylum system in 2018, as Germany was feeling the after-effects of the European refugee crisis.

The main defendant faces a total of 14 charges, including accusations linked to the false manipulation of documents and passing on classified information.

The lawyer who received the classified information is also on trial, facing eight charges. He is accused of advising refugees who were forced to go underground or leave the country.

The defence lawyers have admitted the facts of the matter in each case, but they are arguing that their clients’ conduct should not be punishable in law.

Defence lawyer Lea Voigt said on Thursday that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) had unjustly accused the official in public and caused her “irreparable” damage.

The suspicion at the time was that hundreds of people had been granted asylum without going through the proper processes. An internal investigation revealed organizational problems both in the Bremen office and the headquarters in Nuremberg.

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