Alfons Schuhbeck in the courtroom: was he cheated first and foremost?
Sven Hoppe / dpa
A criminal case against star chef Alfons Schuhbeck has been running in front of the Munich I district court since the morning.
The public prosecutor accuses him of tax evasion in the millions.
However, his defense attorneys see "doubts and inconsistencies" in the allegations against their client, as attorney Sascha König said.
And: "It may turn out at the end of the process that Mr. Schuhbeck is not the perpetrator, but the victim himself, because not only the tax authorities, but first and foremost he was cheated."
The public prosecutor accuses the 73-year-old Schuhbeck of using a computer program to smuggle revenue past the tax office.
In total, more than 2.3 million euros in taxes are involved, which Schuhbeck is said to have evaded in 25 cases between 2009 and 2016.
According to a ruling by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe in 2012, there is usually a risk of imprisonment without parole from a sum of one million euros.
Should Schuhbeck be convicted for the accused acts, the 73-year-old is likely to face prison.
The trial is likely to mark the low point of his career, during which he has cooked for the Beatles and Charlie Chaplin, as well as former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Queen Elizabeth II.
Co-defendant accused Schuhbeck
The man who the public prosecutor believes is said to have developed this program is on trial together with Schuhbeck.
He is accused of aiding and abetting tax evasion.
He admitted the allegations at the beginning of the process – and made a confession through his lawyer.
He stated that Schuhbeck commissioned him to develop the tool.
He did this because he was economically dependent on him.
Schuhbeck's lawyers do not deny that revenue was lost and taxes were evaded.
They emphasize, however, that there are no indications or proof that the restaurateur has reached into the till himself.
In addition, the investigators had no answer as to where the millions in cash should have gone by which Schuhbeck is said to have reduced his income.
When the investigations against him became known three years ago, Schuhbeck said: "I will work very closely and very openly with the authorities to refute all allegations." He is "answered by the authorities on all questions".
18 days of negotiations are scheduled until December 22nd.
The judiciary gave the process the process name "ginger" - after one of Schuhbeck's favorite ingredients.