Edathy ruling sends ′completely wrong signal′ | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 02.03.2015
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Edathy ruling sends 'completely wrong signal'

A German court has closed the case against former lawmaker Sebastian Edathy after he admitted to viewing child porn, in return for a fine paid to the Child Protection Agency. The agency doesn't agree with the ruling.

Christian Zainhofer is vice president of the German Child Protection Agency (DKSB).

DW: Mr. Zainhofer, are you relieved?

Christian Zainhofer: I wouldn't say relieved. We're unhappy to see the lawsuit closed because we had expected it to continue and not be terminated in return for the payment of a fine.

So you don't agree with the decision?

No, from our point of view it sends the completely wrong signal. First, it gives the impression that you can buy yourself out of this and second, that it isn't taken as seriously as it should be. This is not a trivial offense we're talking about.

Has the Edathy trial changed how we perceive child pornography?

Yes, it has. It was the entire Edathy affair, irrespective of the trial, that made politicians in Berlin tackle a major reform of the sexual offenses criminal law. These are issues we had been urging politicians [to reform] for a long time, but that were never really noticed by politicians. The Edathy scandal triggered these reforms, and in that sense, it had its good side.

Christian Zainhofer

Zainhofer: The Edathy scandal triggered reforms in Germany's sexual offenses criminal law

Are children better protected now, or does the law still need some improvement?

In the criminal legislation of sexual offenses, I believe that, but for a few legal details, we've made a huge step toward making crimes more easily punishable. But it must be clear to everyone that simply tightening laws won't prevent crime. So we can't just leave it at that.

By admitting his guilt, Edathy more or less prevented the trial from going ahead - that's your criticism?

Yes. And I do get the impression that it was a tactical confession. I'm a defense attorney, so I'm familiar with the practice. Sometimes, that's the route you choose to ensure court proceedings are dropped, in comparison to an uncertain acquittal. So I have a guarded view of this confession.

Now that the trial is over, how do you intend to keep the focus on the topic of child pornography?

Clearly, we have to keep up the debate on such issues in society. If you see what people post on the Internet, on Facebook and elsewhere - for instance pictures of their naked children - it should be clear to everyone that there are people who abuse such material. And that's why we have to keep the debate up and running. What do you reveal about yourself, and where? This is a task for the schools and parents, that's where these things need to be discussed.

Edathy was fined 5,000 euros (about $5,600), payable to the German Child Protection Agency's branch in the state of Lower Saxony. Do you know what you're going to do with the money?

I just talked to the head of the regional branch, and he told me that the money will explicitly be used to help prevent sexual abuse.

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