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Bernhard Günther (January 2024): The victim of an acid attack takes part in the trial in Wuppertal as a witness

Photo: Henning Kaiser/dpa

In the trial surrounding the acid attack on top manager Bernhard Günther, the defense lawyers surprised with their client's alleged alibi. The defendant took part in a memorial service for his late father in Belgrade on the day of the crime, they claimed on Friday. Several family members could attest to this. This rules out the possibility that he was at the crime scene at the time of the crime.

In a second request for evidence, the defense stated that their client looked different on the day of the crime than in the photo from which Günther claimed to have recognized him. The court then suspended the hearing for several hours. It wants to decide in the afternoon how to deal with the applications.

An attack was carried out on Günther on March 4, 2018: two men ambushed the manager near his private home in Haan near Düsseldorf and doused him with highly concentrated sulfuric acid.

A perpetrator with a Belgian passport has already been legally sentenced to twelve years in prison. A second 36-year-old suspect, who is said to be the accomplice, is currently on trial. The man had been the focus of investigators for a long time. The Serb had already been arrested once in Cologne in 2019, but at that time, according to the authorities, the urgent suspicion could not be substantiated.

The client is said to be a top manager from the German energy industry who has not yet been publicly named and who wanted to eliminate Günther as a professional rival at the time. Günther was seriously injured in the acid attack. Eyelids and parts of his facial skin had to be transplanted. At the time, the manager was the head of finance at the energy company Innogy, which was taken over by the E.on Group a few days later. Today he is a manager at the Finnish energy supplier Fortum with more than 19,000 employees.