Almost a year ago, Jan Böhmermann’s editorial staff reported hate messages from the Internet in all federal states, but the investigations were sluggish in many places. The police have now reacted in several countries – and at least in one country there is a verdict.
A nationwide Böhmermann experiment on how the police deal with reports of hate messages online has consequences in several countries. In Saxony, Bremen and Saxony-Anhalt, for example, investigations are being carried out – on suspicion of frustrating criminal prosecution.
The background is an action of the program “ZDF Magazin Royale” by the satirist Jan Böhmermann. Last summer, the editors reported seven obviously criminally relevant hate messages to police departments in all 16 federal states and later described the mostly sluggish course of the investigation.
Death threats were displayed, as were anti-Semitic content and anti-constitutional, right-wing extremist symbols. In some federal states, the ads were not even accepted.
In Bremen, a police officer is said to have recorded the complaint, but only recorded it in the system two months later when the complainants asked. Now it must be checked why the matter was processed late, said a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office in Bremen.
The police officer concerned was transferred to the office, as the Bremen police had already announced on Tuesday. At this time, the Böhmermann research was not yet public knowledge. According to the report, the police filed a criminal complaint and initiated disciplinary proceedings against the man.
In Saxony-Anhalt, a message from the Magdeburg police said: “According to current knowledge, no criminal complaint was received here at the time.” The facts of the case are being thoroughly and comprehensively investigated. The investigation into the specific case continued, it said.
In Saxony, too, investigations are being carried out into the office on suspicion of thwarting criminal prosecution. Police said the investigation was still ongoing against unknown persons. After a verbal complaint was made in a Leipzig police station, nothing is said to have happened. According to their own statements, the Leipzig police have now scoured their IT recording systems for the display. “As a result, it can be stated that what should not be is a fact!”
Leipzig’s police chief René Demmler explained: “Even if I can assure you that this is not a standard of the Leipzig police department, the case shows a deficit that needs to be clarified. As the Leipzig police, we have a clear responsibility here.”
A second written report was received by the police station in Oschatz last August. It was passed on to the state security of the Leipzig police department. In the meantime, the public prosecutor’s office is investigating.
Since things were not going well in Rhineland-Palatinate either, the Mainz police reacted there in the meantime: The online police station in Rhineland-Palatinate had been significantly optimized in this area, the authority said on Saturday on Twitter. The criticism is taken seriously and the many hints from the program will be incorporated into the optimization.
Things went better in Hesse. In Darmstadt, the relevance of the ad was immediately recognized by the police and forwarded to state security. “Everything was done in eleven minutes. (…) It can be that easy,” summed up the police testers from “ZDF Magazin Royale”.
At least one suspect has also been charged. The Hessian police felt confirmed by this praise. “Ever since the murder of District President Walter Lübcke, we have been taking the fight against hate and hate speech very seriously, including on the Internet,” said a spokesman for the Hessian Ministry of the Interior. The Kassel district president Lübcke (CDU) was shot dead in June 2019 by the right-wing extremist Stephan Ernst.
Baden-Württemberg also received praise – there was the only conviction of the seven cases so far. Investigations by the Freiburg public prosecutor found a suspect and sentenced him to a fine in November 2021 by the Aalen district court.
But: In other countries that didn’t go down at all, they stopped the investigation in exactly the same case without finding any result. In Berlin, the investigations were still ongoing months after the conviction. The North Rhine-Westphalian police now wants to compare their investigation methods with other authorities. The Ministry of the Interior said on Sunday: “However, it is not possible to answer in the short time why there were different investigation results.”
The traffic light has already announced in the coalition agreement that it would compensate for higher energy prices in the form of climate money. Social Affairs Minister Hubertus Heil is now pushing ahead with the climate money. For this he earns a lot of skepticism.