Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn must stand trial on fraud charges relating to the firm’s emissions scandal, a German court has ruled.
Car buyers of models equipped with the illegal emissions cheating software were out of pocket, the court in Braunschweig, in Germany, ruled.
The court, based in Volkswagen’s home region of Lower Saxony, found a ‘predominant likelihood’ of conviction in the fraud charge.
Winterkorn and four other defendants would face trial on charges of fraud in connection with aggravated tax evasion and illegal advertising.
Dates for a public trial are to be set later.
September 18, 2020 will be five years on from when Winterkorn resigned from the top post, after the US Environmental Protection Agency announced a notice of violation.
It unearthed years of emissions cheating whereby software recognised when vehicles were on test stands and turned emission controls on, then turned the emission controls off during normal driving.
Consequently, VW Group models with the cheat device fitted emitted far more nitrogen oxide than permitted by US regulators.
Winterkorn also faces criminal charges in the US but cannot be extradited.
Volkswagen has paid more than 30bn euro (£25bn) in fines and settlements over the scandal.