Court upholds ban on former Chancellor Kohl′s candid quotes | News | DW | 05.05.2015
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Court upholds ban on former Chancellor Kohl's candid quotes

A German court has upheld a ruling that bans the publication of revealing comments by Helmut Kohl, the nation's longest-serving chancellor. The dispute centers around the publication of a memoir against Kohl's will.

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl received another legal victory on Tuesday, after Cologne's Higher Regional Court upheld a November 2014 ruling banning the publication of comments he made for a memoir later published against his will.

The book, published last October, contains somewhat unguarded comments, among others, about the Christian Democratic Union, the party Kohl kept in power as chancellor for 16 years. Some of the quotes pass unfavorable judgment on Angela Merkel, the present chancellor and his former protégé.

"Ms. Merkel couldn't even hold her fork and knife properly," Kohl, 85, is quoted as saying. "She hung around at state dinners so that I had to repeatedly tell her to pull herself together." Kohl was toppled from his role as head of the CDU in 1999 amid an expenses scandal, in which it was revealed he accepted a cash donation from unknown sources.

In November, Kohl won a legal challenge against his one-time ghostwriter, journalist Heribert Schwan, when a court in Cologne banned the author and publisher from using most of the quotes published in the book - entitled "Vermächtnis: Die Kohl Protokole" (Legacy: The Kohl Protocols).

The book, the final in several volumes of memoirs written by Schwan, contained quotes from over 600 hours of interviews conducted in 2001 and 2002, for the purpose of writing the memoirs. But after Kohl pulled out of their agreement, Schwan and another journalist, Tilman Jens, decided to go ahead with the book without the former chancellor's authorization.

The court in November ruled that Schwan was guilty of violating confidentiality, and had a duty to treat the conversations as confidential. It said Kohl had the right to decide whether the content should be published.

The ruling meant Schwan could no longer use most of the Kohl quotes, nor deliver any further books with the offending quotes - but not remove existing copies from sale.

jr/kms (AP, AFP, dpa)

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