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Europe

German Press Review: IMF Boss for President

Germany's press on Friday took issue with the decision by the country's main opposition parties to nominate the head of the IMF, Horst Köhler, for president. The papers also discussed the retrial for a Sept. 11 helper.

Horst Köhler – never heard of him, who’s that? - that’s a question most Germans are likely to have asked, pointed out the Express newspaper, when the opposition party leaders finally pulled their last candidate out of the hat. The Cologne daily thought it was high time that people in this country talked about political culture, which, in its view, was well and truly going to the dogs. It was intolerable, the paper declared, that choosing a candidate for the presidency should be like rummaging around on a bargain counter, with the party leaders ruthlessly sorting out everyone who did not suit their needs.

The tz in Munich called the performance of the opposition leaders "amateurish, bungling and embarrassing", and said it was not exactly a recommendation for a future CDU-FDP government. The daily noted that not only must it have been a traumatic experience for Wolfgang Schäuble, whose strengths and weaknesses had been subjected to lengthy public scrutiny, but also that Horst Köhler did not deserve to be sent into the race as a second choice.

The Moroccan Mounir el Motassadeq, the only person in the world convicted in the September 11 attacks on the United States won a retrial on Thursday after Germany’s appeals court faulted Washington's refusal to allow testimony from a key al-Qaida captive, Ramzi Binalshibh. For the Hamburger Abendblatt the decision came as no surprise, its view being that if a defendant were at a disadvantage because of withheld evidence, this had to be offset, and if necessary the accused must be acquitted. The paper concluded that this had now become a distinct possibility in the case of Motassadeq.

The Westphälische Nachrichten took the line that the appeals court in Karlsruhe may even have done the Hamburg court that sentenced Motassadeq to a maximum of fifteen years in jail a favor, for the case for the prosecution was weak and again and again objections had been raised to the court proceedings and the verdict. A retrial, it said, now offers the possibility of eliminating all doubts. And, the paper pointed out, the appeals court had not acquitted Motassadeq: it had merely created the right conditions for pronouncing him guilty without any shadow of doubt.