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Kerala origin German exMP tipped off about child pornography probe

Sunday, Dec 14, 2014,21:05 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Berlin | Indian origin German exMP Sebastian Edathy has admitted he had received a tipoff from a fellow Social Democrat (SPD) parliamentarian about an impending investigation against him on child pornography charges shortly before he stepped down in February. Edathy said he was alerted by SPD MP Michael Hartmann about intelligence information that his name was traced on a list of German clients of a Canadian supplier of child pornography.

During a meeting on the sidelines of the SPD convention in Leipzig in November 2013, Hartmann also spoke of preparations to open an investigation against him, Edathy said in an interview published yesterday. Hartmann, a home affairs spokesman of the SPD, received those information from Joerg Ziercke, president of Germany’s external intelligence service BND, who retired recently, Edathy told weekly news magazine Stern.

A German parliamentary inquiry committee has been trying during the past few months to establish whether Edathy, 44, was warned in advance about the investigations. Edathy, who has been hiding since his resignation, is scheduled to appear before the committee on Thursday. He had cited health grounds when he laid down his seat in the Bundestag, lower house of parliament on February 7, a few days before the state prosecutor in Hannover raided his houses and offices and launched a probe against him.

Edathy was born in Hannover as the son of a migrant from Kerala and a German mother. Former Interior Minister HansPeter Friedrich stepped down on February 14, taking responsibility for leaking information about the investigation. He admitted that he had passed on confidential information about Edathy to SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel during the coalition negotiations between chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and the SPD to form a grand coalition. He said he did that in the interest of the stability of the new government.

Edathy will stand trial at a court in northern Germany on charges of acquiring and possessing child pornography. The regional court in Verden, in the state of Lower Saxony announced earlier that the trial would begin on February 23 and it may last for nine days. If found guilty, Edathy could face up to two years in jail or a fine.

Since the allegations against him surfaced in February, Edathy repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He admitted that he possessed photos and videos of under aged children, but held the view that they were not classified as child pornography under the German law.