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Kohl Wins Support From Opponent

July 19, 2000 GMT

BERLIN (AP) _ One of Helmut Kohl’s biggest foes says the former chancellor should be invited to speak at a national celebration commemorating 10 years of German unity, despite his fall from grace in a party financing scandal.

``We have to accept that he played the decisive role back then. He belongs there and must speak,″ Gregor Gysi, a leader of the former East German communists, was quoted Wednesday as telling the newspaper Die Welt.

The Christian Democrat-led government in Saxony state says it has invited Kohl to the Oct. 3 ceremony at the Dresden opera, but not as a speaker.

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Gysi accused the Christian Democrats of abusing the anniversary celebration to carry out an internal battle over how to deal with Kohl and his refusal to name illegal campaign donors.

Kohl headed the conservative Christian Democrat party for 25 years and oversaw the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990.

He admitted in December that he accepted $1 million in undeclared donations as chancellor in the 1990s, saying the money was given to help his party in former communist East Germany. He insists he promised the donors he would not name them.

New details emerged Wednesday about the alleged destruction of two-thirds of the chancellery’s files before Kohl handed over power to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in 1998.

A secret list of reconstructed data shows that records on Germany’s intelligence service and arms sales were among the material wiped out, the weekly newspaper Die Zeit reported. A witness told a special investigator that aides to Kohl’s last chief of staff, Friedrich Bohl, helped select files for destruction, the report said.

Both Bohl and Kohl have denied they ordered any files destroyed.

Leaders of a parliamentary committee investigating whether favors were bought under Kohl’s administration claim some of the missing records relate to business deals long clouded by allegations of kickbacks.

Kohl is under investigation for possible criminal charges by prosecutors in Bonn. His attorney said this week that the ex-chancellor would be willing to pay a fine for his role in the scandal if prosecutors closed the case.