In December 1966 Dr. Josef Neuberger was appointed Justice Minister in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the federal state where Grünenthal had its headquarters and the later trial was being held. As Justice Minister, Neuberger was the highest superior prosecutor in NRW. This was a clear conflict of interest. Not only had Neuberger been the personal lawyer of Grünenthal company owner Hermann Wirtz, but lawyers working for Neuberger’s law firm were involved in the defence of other senior Grünenthal employees even after Neuberger was appointed minister.
Three days before Neuberger took office, he actually wrote to the prosecutors to demand they stop proceedings against his client: “I would be personally obliged for a rapid execution.”
Sources: Michael Magazanik: Silent Shock. The Men behind the Thalidomide Scandal and an Australian Family’s Long Road to Justice. Melbourne 2015, p. 173.