Berlin airport scandal: Probe into possible poison attack

Berlin's new airport has been blighted by delays and corruption. Now the farce has taken a darker turn, as police investigate the possible attempted poisoning of a whistleblower.

Berlin airport scandal: Probe into possible poison attack
Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Photo: DPA

According to Bild am Sonntag, a top engineer at Berlin's new international airport (BER) collapsed in May 2015 while at work.  

The man survived, but a report on the cause of his collapse found that he had been poisoned, and posited that “a lethal substance could have been poured into his coffee”.

He may have been targeted for being a whistleblower in a corruption scandal that has engulfed the airport management over the past 12 months, Bild am Sonntag reports.

Now prosecutors in Brandenburg are investigating “the suspicion of grievous bodily harm”, according to Berlin daily Tagesspiegel.

The scandal relates to the construction contractor, Imtech, which prosecutors allege bribed airport officials to receive inflated payments for their work. BER as well as Imtech managers are currently under investigation for corruption.

Imtech has since filed for bankruptcy and in 2015 four people were arrested in relation to the probe, one from BER and three from Imtech.

The airport was originally supposed to open in 2011 but has been mired in a seemingly never-ending series of scandals relating to financing and planning failures.

The complete rebuilding of its fire safety systems has delayed the project for the past five years.

Airport administrators insist it will open its doors to the public at the end of 2017, but their own press officer cast doubt on this date before being promptly fired. Meanwhile a former project leader said last week that it may never open.

Accusations of contractors submitting inflated bills have also been made against Siemens, Bosch and Deutsche Telekom. In the Siemens case, prosecutors are looking into the allegation that the company charged €1.9 million for work that was never done.

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Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president

Police raided the offices of FC Barcelona on Monday, carrying out several arrests just six days ahead of the club's presidential elections, a Catalan regional police spokesman told AFP.

Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president
Barcelona's former president Josep Maria Bartomeu is among the arrested. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Spain's Cadena Ser radio said one of those arrested was former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October, along with CEO Oscar Grau and the club's head of legal services.

But the police refused to confirm names, saying only “arrests are taking place” and adding that the operation was being run by officers from the financial crimes unit.

“We are in the process of carrying out an operation right now with agents of the financial crimes unit,” the police spokesman told AFP.

According to reports in the Spanish media, the operation is linked to last year's investigation into the 'BarçaGate' scandal, which saw the club deny hiring a company to criticise current and former players on social media to improve the image of the then-president Bartomeu.

Cadena Ser said Barca paid €1 million in six separate invoices to the company I3 Ventures, with whom the club have since cut ties.

Bartomeu resigned in October, after mounting pressure following months of controversy and a dramatic decline in performances on the pitch.

His successor is due to be elected on Sunday, when club members will choose between the final three candidates, Joan Laporta, Toni Freixa and Victor Font.