Berlin | An Indian-origin former German lawmaker today admitted to child pornography charges against him and agreed to pay a fine of USD 5,600 in exchange for a court halting his high-profile trial, a case that triggered a major political scandal leading to resignation of a minister. 45-year-old Sebastian Edathy admitted to downloading child pornography images and video onto his official parliamentary laptop, paving the way for the court proceedings to be stopped.
He will have no criminal record. I’ve now realised that I made a mistake, and it took me too long to realise it, Edathy, who was born in Hannover as the son of a migrant from Kerala and a German mother, said in a statement read out by his lawyer. The accusations are true, said Edathy, a former candidate for a ministerial post in chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative- social democrat coalition government. The court ordered Edathy to pay USD 5,600 to the Child Protection Federation of Lower Saxony in exchange for the judges ending the prosecution.
In the criminal case against Sebastian Edathy on possession of child pornography, the proceedings… are stopped, the judge said. The controversial Paragraph 153 rule, under which a trial can be abandoned if prosecution and defence agree and a fine is paid to a public interest organisation, leaves Edathy without a blemish on his criminal record, the Local reported. Edathy, a former home affairs spokesman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), went on trial in the northern town of Verden a week ago, accused of downloading images and video files featuring child pornography onto his work laptop in 2013.
The state prosecutor’s office in Hannover, which filed a case against him at the regional court in Verden, had also alleged that he was in possession of an illustrated book and a CD containing child pornography material. He had earlier admitted that he had downloaded naked photos and videos of under-aged children, but insisted that he did not violate the rules as those material were not classified as child pornography under the German law.
Edathy became the subject of a media frenzy in early 2014 when he resigned due to ill health a few days before investigators searched his home and parliamentary office. His name had surfaced in the records of a Canadian company which sold pornography featuring children and minors to clients all over the world. 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.
Meanwhile, a court spokesperson said the fact that the accused was not punished before and his personal life and political career have been fully ruined by the allegations against him played a role in the court decision to drop the charges against him. However, Edathy denied pleading guilty at the court. He said in a statement on his facebook site that his statement contained no admission of guilt and his guilt was not established by the court.
His lawyer shared similar views and said the court did not establish his client’s guilt and therefore Edathy continues to be innocent. But, the prosecution said he had presented a detailed admission of his guilt and admitted for the first time that he had downloaded child pornography photos and videos and possessed books containing such material. An admission of his guilt was a condition set by the state prosecutor’s office in Hannover at the opening of the trial last Monday to suspend the case against him.
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