Berlin | An Indian-origin former German lawmaker, who was put on trial on charges of acquiring and possessing child pornography, has been offered a deal to suspend the proceedings against him if he pleads guilty. The offer was made by the prosecution on the opening day of the nine-day trial of Sebastian Edathy yesterday at the regional court in the town of Verden, in northern Germany. After a short hearing, the trial was adjourned till next Monday.
The state prosecutor’s office in Hannover, which filed a case against Edathy, the judge and the defence lawyer agreed to negotiate a suspension of the process. A condition for us is that the accused makes a convincing admission of his guilt, a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office told journalists outside the courtroom. Edathy, 45, a former rising star of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), is accused of downloading child pornography photos and videos on seven occasions in November, 2013 using his official laptop of the Bundestag as well as possessing an illustrated book and a CD containing such material.
He was tracked down by investigators after his name appeared on a list of around 300 German clients of a Canadian supplier of child pornography photos and videos. He admits ordering such material, but denies doing anything illegal. During yesterday’s trial, the judge rejected an application by Edathy’s lawyer Christian Noll, demanding a suspension of the proceedings. Noll argued that pre-trial investigations were prejudiced and his client cannot expect a fair trial.
Noll referred to the current investigation against the state prosecutor in the town of Celle Frank Luettig on suspicion of betrayal of state secrets and said this was an obstacle to a fair trial. Luettig is accused of passing on details of investigation about Edathy to journalists. Edathy is expected to respond to the prosecution’s offer when the trial resumes on Monday. Legal experts said it could be possible that the case against him might be dropped if he agrees to pay a fine.
The case gave early jitters to Chancellor Angela Merkel at the start of her third term. Then agriculture minister Hans-Peter Friedrich resigned after coming under pressure over suspicions he leaked confidential information about the probe. Edathy, who was born in Hannover as the son of a migrant from Kerala and a German mother, unexpectedly laid down his Bundestag seat on February 7 last year citing health grounds.
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