Luxembourg princes deny involvement in 1980s bombing scandal

Prince Jean (l.) and Prince Guillaume arrive at the Luxembourg City court building on Thursday
Prince Jean (l.) and Prince Guillaume arrive at the Luxembourg City court building on Thursday
Photo: Anouk Antony

(CS/str) Both brothers of Grand Duke Henri, Prince Jean and Prince Guillaume, took to the witness stand in the “Bommeleeër” trial on Thursday, denying allegations that have seen them implicated in a series of bombings in Luxembourg in the 1980s.

Prince Jean said under oath that he had not found about the witness report, which placed him near one of the bomb attack sites in 1987, until 2005, when his brother Henri told him. “First I laughed out loud, because I couldn't believe it, he said, “until my brother told me that it's serious.”

Jean said that he was shocked to find out that these rumours had existed since the 1980s, adding that he was living and working in Paris at the time and unaware of the allegations. “I was never informed about it,” the prince said. “Had I known, I would probably have reacted differently.”

Jean's statements matched a timeline of events presented by former Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who earlier this week had said that he was informed about a witness report implicating Prince Jean in 2005 and then informed the attorney general, as well as the Grand Duke.

Ex-wife supplies alibi

Prince Jean's ex-wife Hélène Vestur meanwhile supplied an alibi for the prince. According to an old letter she wrote to the prince, Jean was on a hunting trip at the estate of the Giscard d'Estaing family at the time. Several photos, a statement by Louis Giscard d'Estaing and a copy of the hunting ledger appear to prove this.

The prince also testified that he did not know Ben Geiben, a former police officer also suspected of playing a role in the bombings. However, he admitted to having met Geiben once at a reception at the Luxembourg embassy in Paris.

Additionally, the prince said that he was not trained in explosives at the military academy in Sandhurst, that he has no ties to the CIA and that he was never a member of the World Anti-Communist League or held a talk at one of the organisation's conferences.

His decision to renounce his right to the throne meanwhile was strictly personal, Prince Jean explained, saying that his parents had not given consent to his marriage with Vestur. However, Vestur was already expecting the couple's first child at the time, born before the 1987 wedding. “For me, it was a logical decision – for my professional and family plans.”

It had previously been implied during the trial that Jean had renounced his right to the throne over the “Bommeleeër” affair.

Prince Guillaume's memory loss

Prince Guillaume meanwhile said on the witness stand that he had suffered severe memory loss in his 2000 car accident, which left him in a coma for days. Especially the ten years prior to the accident were patchy. For example, he cannot remember his wedding day or the birth of his first three children, Guillaume said.

The prince explained that he has no active memory of the bomb attacks, but knows from documents that he studied abroad at the time.

However, Guillaume said that he did not take part in the bombings and that he did not possess a blue VW bus in the mid-80s – a vehicle which plays a role in investigation.

Following the court hearing, the royal household issued a statement saying that the princes were pleased to have had the opportunity to testify "in the hope that this can finally put an end to all allegations and rumours, which have tainted the reputation of the Grand Ducal family, and more specifically that of Prince Jean, for many years."

The statement went on to say that the Grand Ducal household trusts that the judiciary will shed light on the matter and encourages anyone concerned to contribute.