A prominent German former lawmaker is standing trial on allegations he downloaded pornographic photos and videos of children on his parliamentary laptop.

Sebastian Edathy faces up to two years in prison, or as little as a fine, if found guilty of possession of child pornography and possession of "youth pornography."

The 45-year-old, whose trial opened Monday in a state court in the northern town of Verden, the dpa news agency reported, was a rising star in Germany's junior governing Social Democrats before the allegations.

Edathy quit Parliament last February, days before police searched his home and offices. Questions remain over whether and how Edathy was tipped off, and a Cabinet minister resigned over the case.

Edathy has denied wrongdoing, saying his actions were a mistake but legal.