sábado, 16 de abril de 2016
Angela Merkel aceita abertura de processo de Erdogan contra humorista alemão / Merkel allows investigation of Erdoğan satirist
Merkel allows investigation of Erdoğan satirist
Merkel defends freedom of speech — but lets case against German comedian go ahead.
By CYNTHIA KROET , IVO OLIVEIRA and MATTHEW KARNITSCHNIG 4/15/16, 1:13 PM CET
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday she will permit a criminal investigation into the comedian Jan Böhmermann on charges that he insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while promising to overturn the law in question and arguing that artistic freedom was an “elementary” right.
Turkey made a formal request to Germany on Monday to file charges against Böhmermann, who called Erdoğan a “goat-f—-er” in a March 31 broadcast.
Merkel, announcing her decision, said that in the specific case of a paragraph in the German criminal code against insulting representatives or symbols of a foreign state, it was up to the government to grant permission for prosecutors to go ahead. After examination of Turkey’s request by the foreign, justice and interior ministries and her own office, the decision was that “the government will grant permission in this case.”
The case has left Merkel in both a political and legal bind. While Germany needs Turkey’s support to slow the flow of refugees coming to Europe, Berlin doesn’t want to be seen sacrificing its own values in the process. Yet the German law cited by Erdoğan, which dates back to the 19th century, may give Merkel the cover she needs to weather the uproar.
The German chancellor is due to visit the Turkish town of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, on April 23 with European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans.
Merkel’s message on Friday appeared to be that while she was compelled by the law to allow the case to move forward, she disagreed with the statute and planned to overturn it before elections next year. Many German legal scholars have also argued there was little legal basis for Merkel to block the case.
That said, given the broader concerns about media freedom, Merkel could have also argued that since Erdoğan has filed a separate defamation complaint, the government saw no need to invoke the law on offending foreign leaders. More than 80 percent of Germans are opposed to the investigation, according to a poll published by Die Welt. Most Germans see it as a transparent attempt to appease Erdoğan.
Merkel’s calculation seems to be that her countrymen will ultimately care more about getting the refugee crisis under control. It will likely take months, if not years before the case is decided. In the meantime, the uproar will die down. In the end, German courts are likely to decide with Böhmermann, legal analysts say, arguing that the sketch is protected by artistic freedom.
Nonetheless, the episode is a reminder of difficult position Europe put itself in by cutting the refugee deal with Turkey. Critics of the pact who warned it would allow Erdoğan to impose his values on Europe appear vindicated.
In a televised statement, Merkel said there had been “different opinions” between her conservatives and their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners, who run the German foreign and justice ministries. She added that the government would propose abolishing the rarely used lèse majesté law by 2018.
“We’re of the opinion that permission to investigate under paragraph 104-A of the criminal code should not have been granted. Freedom of opinion, of the press and artistic freedom are the highest values of our constitution,” said Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in a joint news conference with his SPD colleague Justice Minister Heiko Maas.
“Prosecution of satire because of ‘lèse majesté’ does not fit with a modern democracy,” said SPD parliamentary leader Thomas Oppermann on Twitter.
If found guilty, Jan Böhmermann could face a three-year jail sentence or, more likely, a fine. Broadcaster ZDF said it will stand by Böhmermann, who has been under police protection. Foreign media, including the Washington Post, have urged Merkel to stand up for freedom of expression against Turkish leader whom the Post said had “all but crushed domestic criticism of his regime” by muzzling journalists and aggressively pursuing slander cases.
Merkel said Germany and Turkey had “close and friendly ties,” as well as being economic partners and allies in NATO, but emphasized that Berlin was “greatly worried by the situation of the media in Turkey and the fate of individual journalists, as well as limits to the right to protest.”
Freedom of expression and artistic freedom are “elementary for pluralism and democracy,” as is the independence of the courts — which in Germany’s case means it is up to the judiciary to weight the merits of the case against Böhmermann, she said.