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Germany

Germany in Brief

Germany's interior minister and leading anti-terrorism official lambastes a U.S. court's Guantanamo Bay ruling; Germans skeptical of social system reform plans; court says police can tap journalists phones and more.

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Human rights organizations have condemned the U.S.'s treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Interior Minister Criticizes Guantanamo Ruling

German interior minister Otto Schily (SPD) lambasted Tuesday's American court decision to deny suspected terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba their due process in American courts. The U.S. Court of Appeals held that suspected al Qaeda members and Taliban fighters held at the U.S. military facility are not automatically protected by the rights bestowed in the U.S. Constitution. In Germany, Schily said the decision raised "a very serious problem that urgently needs to be resolved." The court's ruling upheld a previous court decision that the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay were not held on U.S. sovereign territory and, therefore, were not under the jurisdiction of the U.S. judicial system.

Drunks To Receive Fewer Unemployment Benefits

In a bid to cut Germany's massive unemployment rate and the rising costs associated with it, the northern German city of Lübeck announced on Tuesday it would send drunken job seekers packing from the city's job placement office. Jobless people visiting the job office suspected of having had a tipple will be asked to undergo a blood alcohol test. Those registering a blood-alcohol level greater than 0.5 milliliters would be docked one day of unemployment benefits. The premise behind the pilot program is that job seekers who are drunk in the employment office would be unlikely candidates for work that day and should thus be penalized.

Germans Skeptic of Reform Plans

Gerhard Schröder mit SPD Logo

Gerhard Schroeder

Less than a third of Germans believe the reform plans of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (photo) of the Social Democrats will result in an economic upturn. A poll published by the Forsa Institute on Wednesday showed that 67 percent of respondents think the SPD-led government will not take the right steps needed to turn Germany's beleaguered economy around. Only 29 percent believe Schröder's reform plans, which involve deep cuts to the country's generous social system, will be effective. A separate poll by the same institute found the popularity of Schröder's Social Democrats fast diminishing. The survey found that if national elections were held this week, the reigning SPD would only get 29 percent of the vote, with the opposition Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, garnering 48 percent.

Court: Police May Tap Journalists' Phones

Germany's highest court ruled on Wednesday that police may tap journalists' phones if they are believed to be in contact with wanted criminals. The ruling at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe came in response to a case filed by two journalists who claimed their freedom of the press had been violated after police wire tapped their phone conversations. The police action led to the arrest of Jürgen Schneider on business fraud charges and of suspected terrorist Hans-Joachim Klein, who had been hiding in France for 22 years. The court said the infringement was justifiable if the criminal offense was of greater importance than press freedom.

German Soccer Fans Attacked in Spain

Fans of the Spanish soccer club FC Barcelona attacked fans of the German team Bayer Leverkusen before a Champions League game between the two teams on Tuesday night in Barcelona. Spanish police said three Germans suffered minor injuries after about 15 Spaniards threw bottles and stones at them inside a pub. The German fans hid behind furniture as police sought to drive away the attackers.

Compiled with material from wire services.