German satirist takes Chancellor Merkel to court over poem mocking Turkey's Erdogan

Mr Jan Boehmermann's 2016 poem was termed "deliberately insulting" by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Mr Jan Boehmermann's 2016 poem was termed "deliberately insulting" by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.PHOTO: JAN BOHMERMANN/FACEBOOK

BERLIN (DPA) - German satirist Jan Boehmermann is taking Chancellor Angela Merkel to court over her assessment of a 2016 poem he read out on television mocking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Berlin administrative court spokesman said on Tuesday (April 2).

Mr Boehmermann has brought the case against the Chancellor's office in relation to a phone call Dr Merkel conducted with Mr Ahmet Davutoglu, who was Turkish prime minister at the time, after Mr Erdogan initiated legal action against the satirist.

Reporting back on the conversation, Dr Merkel's spokesman said the Chancellor had termed Mr Boehmermann's poem "deliberately insulting".

Dr Merkel later described the statement as a mistake.

Mr Boehmermann is demanding that Dr Merkel be restrained from repeating the words "deliberately insulting" in this context.

If this fails, he demands that the assessment presented by Dr Merkel's spokesman, Mr Steffen Seibert, be ruled illegal.

Hearing Mr Erdogan's case against Mr Boehmermann, under legislation protecting foreign heads of state from insult, a Hamburg court ruled in February 2017 that certain verses could not be repeated in public.

 

But it did not ban the entire poem, as demanded by Mr Erdogan's lawyers.

Mr Boehmermann intends to fight the Hamburg court ruling, which was made under a law that was removed from Germany's criminal code at the start of 2018 after public debate on the issue and its implications for freedom of speech.

The Berlin court spokesman said a ruling in the current case brought by Mr Boehmermann was expected on April 16.

Dr Merkel is not expected to appear, but will be represented by her lawyer, he said.