Germany: No probe of column on police that angered minister

BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors said Friday they won’t open an investigation of a newspaper column that disparaged police and infuriated the country’s interior minister, finding that it was covered by the right to freedom of expression.

Berlin prosecutors looked into the matter after receiving more than 150 criminal complaints about the column published in June by the left-leaning Tageszeitung newspaper, which was headlined “All cops are unfit for work” and suggested that police officers would be better off working on garbage dumps.

They concluded that, despite its “extremely disparaging assessment,” the column was covered by the right to free speech. It can be seen as a “pointed article in the context of the current public discussion about ‘police violence’ and racism inside the police,” they added in a statement.

In June, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said he would file a criminal complaint against the column’s author, but backed off the threat amid heavy criticism after Chancellor Angela Merkel intervened.

Earlier this month, Germany’s independent press watchdog also ruled that the column was covered by freedom of speech.

The German Press Council found that the column had addressed structural problems within the police force, such as far-right extremism, violence and racism, in a satirical way.

Seehofer said that the council’s verdict was “intolerable” because it played down what he considered libelous comments about the police.

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