Reasonable questions

Friday, January 26, 2007 at 0:51 | Posted in Freedom of speech, Germany, Legal | 2 Comments

Ecuador’s Defense Minister Guadalupe Larriva died in a helicopter crash just ten days after becoming the first female defense minister of the country. The circumstances of the accident are unclear. It is reasonable to ask if it was indeed an accident. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Ms Larriva had pledged not to renew the US military presence at Manta air base in 2009. There is no evidence either way but the question is reasonable.

Same sort of reasonable questions can and should be asked about imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the murder of Anna Politkovskaya in Russia. It is reasonable to ask whether the real reason to Mr. Khodorkovsky’s prison verdict was his opposition to president Putin. It is equally reasonable to ask whether Ms. Politkovskaya was not murdered by agents of the Russian government.

When a bank in Cologne sues a Cologne writer for his book, it is reasonable to ask why they choose to do it in a Berlin court rather than in Cologne. Would it be because they think their lawsuit has a better chance to succeed in Berlin? If so, it would be reasonable to ask why.

Bank Oppenheim is represented by the Berlin based law firm Schertz Bergmann. As it happens, one of the lawyers in that firm is the son of Georg Schertz, who is a former police chief of Berlin. He had a long legal career in Berlin before he was appointed as police chief.

It would be rasonable to ask whether Georg Schertz is acquainted to judge Mauck, who presides over the trial Bank Oppenheim versus Werner Rügemer. It would be reasonable to ask whether chief Schertz’s son could have reason to believe that his firm had better prospects in Berlin than in Cologne.

Marcel Bartels asked some of those reasonable questions. Chief Scherz and his lawyer Dominik Höch of the Schertz Bergmann law firm did apparently not think these questions were reasonable at all because they sent Marcel a sease and desist letter. They say Marcel is infringing the chief’s personal rights by asking these questions.

Just to be on the safe side, Marcel deleted passages of his article. I happened to get hold of the original uncensored version through Google’s cache. I uploaded it to my server. Just so that you can read it and decide for yourself whether Marcel’s questions are reasonable.



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  1. Shouldn’t it have been a *c*ease and desist? Just thinking, what our current legal system has in stock for us right now…

  2. You could say that the legal restrictions to free speech in Germany are ridiculous, but unfortunately they are being implemented very seriously. As we are talking about the largest member country of EU who happens to have the presidency, I feel somewhat worried.

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