Germany accepts Turkey request to prosecute comedian

April 15, 2016 2:40 pm

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a statement on ’s request to seek prosecution of German comedian Jan Boehmermann at the Chancellery in Berlin, , on April 15, 2016. (© AFP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Berlin “will give its authorization” over a request by Turkey on the prosecution of a German TV comedian for a satirical poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“The government will give its authorization in the case at hand,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Friday, adding that it was up to the courts to decide on the comedian’s guilt or innocence.
The German chancellor, however, said Berlin intends to scrap by 2018 the rarely enforced Section 103 of the criminal code, which criminalizes insulting a head of state, organs or representatives of foreign states. The charges can carry a sentence of up to three years in prison.
German comedian Jan Boehmermann read out a sexually crude poem about Erdogan on public German television channel ZDF two weeks ago.

German TV comedian Jan Boehmermann 

Ankara demanded last week to have Boehmermann prosecuted for insulting the Turkish president as a foreign head of state.
Merkel had called the anti-Erdogan poem “deliberately insulting” during a telephone call with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. A preliminary investigation was also launched by German prosecutors over the so-called defamatory poem.
The ZDF apologized over the piece of satire, saying the show “had crossed the line into slander.” A rerun of the program was pulled from air.
Journalists have criticized Merkel for kowtowing to Turkey’s demands at a time Berlin has been relying on Ankara to implement the terms of a controversial deal on taking back refugees from the European shores.
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