EU chief Juncker's surgery delays Luxembourg trial

Luxembourg (AFP) –


A Luxembourg court was forced Thursday to delay the next hearing in a tortuous spy scandal case after former prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker announced plans to undergo surgery.

Juncker, currently president of the European Commission, will be operated upon on November 11 to treat an aortic aneurysm in his abdomen and will be unable to appear as a witness in the Luxembourg trial starting on November 19.

Twelve hearings had been set aside for the case, in which three agents of Luxembourg's SREL intelligence agency are accused of using illegal wire taps in 2007 while Juncker was still their premier.

"The prosecutor's office is contacting the different parties to propose another delay to the trial, while still hoping that it can at least begin this year," a judicial source told AFP.

The SREL case was initially timetabled for November 2017, but has been previously delayed because of Juncker's packed programme as Brussels' top EU official.

Before taking up the EU role, Juncker served as Luxembourg's prime minister for 18 years before fall-out from the SREL scandal triggered an election that saw him pushed from power.

Officers under his authority were accused of a variety of wrong-doings between 2004 and 2009, including using illegal wire-taps to keep tabs on one of their own informants.

This in turn links the SREL case back to investigations of an earlier intrigue to rock the Grand Duchy, the "Bommeleeer affair" -- an unsolved series of 1984 and 1986 explosives attacks on power lines and public buildings.

Two former gendarmes are under investigation in a separate case for alleged involvement in the bombings, a murky conspiracy which left five people wounded and has never been fully explained.

Meanwhile, the head of the SREL between 2003 and 2010, Marco Mille, accuses Juncker of having authorised wire-taps as the agency investigated the Bommeleeer case.

Juncker denies this, but has been called as a witness.