Sat, Aug. 20, 2005

Uniformed Officer no Clown

CK - Washington.  Calling a uniformed officer a clown can constitute libel. A passenger demanded to see the ID of a uniformed officer on a train during a random ticket inspection with these words: "Any old clown could ask for my ticket, let me see your ID."

The Tiergarten court in Berlin found the statement libelous and sentenced the rider to a penalty of 225 Euros, the Lichtenrader Notizen blog reports before it extensively reprints the appellate ruling.

The appellate court in Berlin analyzed the libel statute in §185 of the Criminal Code in light of constitutional free speech considerations and the justification rules of §193 of the Criminal Code.

In the matter (4) 1 Ss 93/04 (91/04), the fourth criminal division of the court upheld the lower court on August 12, 2005 because it found the statement to have been made with defamatory intent and a retaliatory motive which were not outweighed by free speech considerations.

The nuisance value of the random check must have been high for the passenger who happened to have no ticket.


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