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Germany

Rhineland-Palatinate court rejects Turkish president's Böhmermann poem appeal

German prosecutors have rejected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's appeal of a decision to drop an investigation into the TV reading of a poem by satirist Jan Böhmermann. The case caused diplomatic friction.

Prosecutors in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said Friday they concurred with the Mainz prosecutors' decision to shelve the case earlier this month on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to show that a crime had been committed, especially given its satirical context.

German television comic Jan Böhmermann's poem, which he read on public ZDF television, described the Turkish leader as "stupid, cowardly and uptight" and contained crude sexual references.

Böhmermann said the piece was a reaction to Ankara's decision to summon Germany's ambassador over another satirical song broadcast on German TV, which lampooned Erdogan in far tamer language.

A litmus test for free speech

There was widespread reaction in April to the decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to grant a Turkish request to invoke a 19th century law allowing prosecution of Böhmermann for insulting a foreign head of state. She later expressed regret and said her government planned to repeal the law criminalizing insults of a foreign leaders, although not for the German president.

The German Association of Journalists (DJV) had criticized Erdogan's decision to file a further complaint. "The Turkish president is not only an active enemy of press freedom, but also a bad loser," DJV head Frank Überall said.

The episode has had an effect on German-Turkish relations as the two countries seek to negotiate over the refugee crisis and Turkey's stalled accession talks into the European Union.

jar/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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