FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2017 file photohe brand logo of German car maker Volkswagen, VW, is photographed on a car in Berlin, Germany. The chairman of Volkswagen says that diesel exhaust tests involving monkeys were "totally incomprehensible" and the matter must be "investigated fully and unconditionally." Monday's comments by Hans Dieter Poetsch, reported by the dpa news agency, come in the wake of a report by the New York Times that a research group funded by auto companies exposed monkeys to diesel exhaust from a late-model Volkswagen, while another group was exposed to fumes from an older Ford pickup. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, file)

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Volkswagen suspends executive over monkey trials

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Automaker Volkswagen has suspended its head of external relations and sustainability in response to the controversy over experiments in which monkeys were exposed to diesel exhaust.

FILE – In this Aug. 2, 2017 file photo the exhaust pipes of a VW Diesel car are photographed in Frankfurt, Germany. The chairman of Volkswagen says that diesel exhaust tests involving monkeys were “totally incomprehensible” and the matter must be “investigated fully and unconditionally.” Monday’s comments by Hans Dieter Poetsch, reported by the dpa news agency, come in the wake of a report by the New York Times that a research group funded by auto companies exposed monkeys to diesel exhaust from a late-model Volkswagen, while another group was exposed to fumes from an older Ford pickup. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, file)

The company said in a statement Tuesday that Thomas Steg was stepping away from his duties at his own request.

The statement said the company was “drawing the first consequences” as it investigates the activities of EUGT, the entity backed by Volkswagen and other carmakers that commissioned the monkey experiment.

The move follows a report in The New York Times that the now-disbanded EUGT commissioned the test to show how Volkswagen’s diesel technology was succeeding in controlling emissions. But the test was done with a vehicle rigged to cheat on emissions tests. The practice was exposed in 2015, toppling then-CEO Martin Winterkorn.

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