German Minister′s Torture Comments Spark Outrage | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 20.12.2005
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German Minister's Torture Comments Spark Outrage

Wolfgang Schäuble said last week that he wants information which may have been extracted from suspected terrorists through torture to be used in court. Politicians across the spectrum disagree.

Dangerous persons must be prosecuted at any cost according to Schäbule

"Dangerous persons" must be prosecuted at any cost according to Schäbule

On Friday, Germany's Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble set off a firestorm across party lines after saying in a newspaper interview that he wants information which may have been extracted from suspected terrorists through torture by a third party to be admissible in court.

"Torture is taboo and therefore information obtained through may not be used," Green Parliamentarian Christian Ströbele told news magazine Der Spiegel.

And the outrage was not limited to the political left.

"He went a step too far,"FDP official Max Stadler told the magazine.

Schäuble: We must use such i n formatio n

Schäuble told the Süddeutsche Zeitu n g in an interview published Friday that it would be irresponsible not to use information obtained through torture to prosecute "dangerous persons" in a trial while maintaining that German security services themselves would "by no means" use torture during interrogations.

Wolfgang Schäuble Innenminister

We need more and stronger tools to fight terrorism, he says

"If we said that, under any circumstances, we should not use information where we cannot be sure that it was attained under conditions completely in line with the rule of law, then this would be absolutely irresponsible," Schäuble told the paper. "We must use such information."

He stressed that the German security services were clear where the borders of a state under the rule of law were.

"There can be no torture," he said and added that even the suggestion of torture to extract statement from terror suspects would not be used by German agents.

I n vestigatio n s i n to secret flights a n d priso n s pe n di n g

Schäuble's comments come as investigations gather pace all over Europe into confidential CIA flights and the existence of secret US military prisons on the continent where suspected terror suspects have been held and allegedly tortured.

Otto Schily

Otto Schily' s harsh proposals were rejected by the coalition

The conservative minister's desire to take on tough new terror laws is seen to be the passing of the torch from his Social Democrat predecessor Otto Schily. Schily's hard-line proposals, including preventive custody for terror suspects, had been rejected in the coalition negotiations. But Schäuble's plans seem to elaborate on Schily's and push for penal custody of suspects.

Schily's 2002 security package included laws making it illegal to be a member of a terror group. Schäuble's looks to want to punish those who exhibit the behavioral patterns of members, even if no official allegiance is recognized.

But German politicians are urging caution in fighting "the war on terror."

"In the war against terrorism, we have to careful not to undermine the law or trample human rights," Saarland's Premier, Peter Müller of the CDU told Der Spiegel.

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