Winterkorn — who needs a hip operation — could be split off from four other automaker’s executives who also face charges for their role in permitting diesel cars to be fitted with illegal emissions-masking software.
If Winterkorn is not able to participate in the planned start of the trial on September 16 over health issues then proceedings against the other four will start without him, a court spokesperson said, although it is yet to be ultimately decided how the court will work out.
The scandal, which was uncovered by U.S. officials in 2015, has cost the automaker over 30 billion euros in repairs, legal fees and settlements.
Winterkorn denies his role according to his lawyer.
Winterkorn needs a hip operation, which would mean he would be fit for a trial by the middle of 2022, according to a report by Manager Magazine.