Four former VW employees go on trial in Dieselgate lawsuit

A combination picture shows the four defendants at the start of the trial of former Volkswagen executives charged with misconduct over their role in the carmaker's manipulation of diesel emissions testing, in Brunswick, Germany Sept 16, 2021. (Photo by Pool via Reuters)

A combination picture shows the four defendants at the start of the trial of former Volkswagen executives charged with misconduct over their role in the carmaker's manipulation of diesel emissions testing, in Brunswick, Germany Sept 16, 2021. (Photo by Pool via Reuters)

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BRAUNSCHWEIG, Germany (Sept 16): Four former employees of carmaker Volkswagen went on trial on Thursday over the Dieselgate scandal in which illegal software was used to cheat emission tests.

The trial, being held in the city of Braunschweig, close to Volkswagen's headquarters in Wolfsburg, started without former CEO Martin Winterkorn, whose separate trial will take place at a later date.

The four employees, who are accused of fraud, had been aware of the illegal software but failed to raise the issue, instead seeking to maximise profits for the carmaker and, as a result, their performance bonuses, Braunschweig prosecutors said.

The defendants either claim they did not know about the manipulation or had informed their superiors about it, judicial sources said.

Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating US diesel engine tests, sparking the biggest crisis in its history.

It has cost the world's second-largest carmaker more than 32 billion euros (US$37.7 billion) in vehicle refits, fines and legal costs so far.