ACID ATTACK AGONY: Drifter Hired To Disfigure Exec In Vicious Energy War, Court Hears

A drifter who threw acid in the face of an energy firm executive is facing trial after his victim put up a EUR 100,000 reward to bring him to justice.

Victim Bernhard Guenther was left hideously disfigured after his attacker hurled a vial of sulphuric acid into his face four years ago.

But after police in Haan near Duesseldorf, western Germany, gave up on the case, Guenther, 55, hired private detectives and put up a six-figure bounty online.

Dr Bernhard Gunther, aged 55, whose face was allegedly burned with acid by Belgian native Nuri T., aged 42, in the German town of Haan located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia after the incident. (Newsflash)

Accused Nuri T., 42, was eventually linked to DNA left on the acid bottle left at the scene of the attack, the Regional Court of Wuppertal heard.

Guenther remains convinced that the attack was a contract crime aimed at derailing an energy firm takeover.

At the time he was CFO of energy firm Innogy which was about to be taken over by German energy giant E.ON.

He had just finished his Sunday morning run when two men approached him as he entered a bakery.

They fled after pouring acid into the executive’s face.

Drifter Nuri T. – who has been a brothel janitor and a mechanic – was arrested more than two years later after Guenther took over the search.

He said in an interview at that time: “Organised crime has suffered during the pandemic.

“Maybe the prospect of some cash will encourage anyone to come forward.”

Nuri T. was seized shortly after the appeal. His accomplice is still on the run.

He denies having anything to do with the acid attack.

But Judge Richter Holger Jung told the accused: “All evidence suggests that you will be found guilty.

Dr Bernhard Gunther, aged 55, whose face was allegedly burned with acid by Belgian native Nuri T., aged 42, in the German town of Haan located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia after the incident. (Newsflash)

“I would advise you to confess. Such a move could reduce your term.”

If found guilty, Nuri T. faces up to 15 years behind bars.

Crime site investigators discovered a small glass container which could have contained the acid wrapped in a glove. The suspect’s DNA was on it.

But Nuri T. told the judge in his two-hour testimony: “I got entangled in something I have nothing to do with. I haven’t been involved in all of this.

“I’m a very social person. I would never harm any other human being.”

Referring to the seriously injured businessman and the place where the attack occurred, the defendant added: “I’ve never seen this man in my whole life. I’ve never been to Haan.”

The suspect claimed he had slept in on the day of the incident before driving 75 miles to Genk, Belgium, to watch a football match in the afternoon.

Nuri T., however, saw a doctor just a few days later for treatment of a chemical burn on his leg.

While the state prosecutor is convinced that some of the sulphuric acid corroded his skin, the defendant referred to a workplace incident.

Victim Guenther had to undergo a series of painful operations to have his facial restored.

His neck and the skin around his eyes still bear visible scars.

Belgian native Nuri T., aged 42, accused for burning 55-year-old Dr Bernhard Gunther’s face with acid in the German town of Haan located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. (Newsflash)

Surgeons think that only wearing contact lenses saved Guenther from losing his eyesight.

Guenther’s appearance in court marked the first occasion of him not wearing sunglasses and a headband.

The businessman said in court: “I’m optimistic there will be some progress. I hope that, eventually, everything will be solved and we find out who is to blame for this.”

After being complimented on his appearance by a reporter as he arrived for the trial, Guenther said with a reluctant smile: “What you see here is all down to excellent make-up.”

The 55-year-old was quick to add: “These scars will remain. My eyelids will be affected forever.

“My life will never be the same again. This is my first thought after getting up every morning. My whole body feels different.”

Investigators think that Nuri T. was hired to carry out the acid attack.

Innogy – where Guenther had acted as CFO since 2016 – was a subsidiary of RWE, one of the fiercest competitors of E.ON.

Innogy was established in 2016 when RWE split some of its businesses into a separate entity.

It emerged in March 2018 that E.ON would acquire Innogy as part of an asset swap agreement with its archrival RWE. The deal was completed in September 2019.

Both firms are headquartered in the city of Essen, North-Rhine Westphalia.

The location in the German town of Haan located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia where Dr Bernhard Gunther, aged 55, was burned with acid by two men while jogging on 4th March 2018. (Newsflash)

Today Guenther is CFO of Finnish state-owned energy supplier Fortum. He took this position in February 2021.

Guenther’s lawyer Martin Meinberg urged the suspect to reveal the truth.

The advocate told Nuri T.: “You could make amends to a substantial degree to Dr Guenther and his family by telling the court who had hired you.”

Meinberg added: “This crime – unprecedented in the history of the German economy – must be solved.”

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