German Probe of Comic’s Anti-Erdogan Poem Closed Without Charges

  • Prosecutor: crime of insulting foreign leaders wasn’t proven
  • Case widened German-Turkish rift during refugee-accord crisis

German prosecutors closed an investigation against a satirist whose lewd rhyme contributed to a rift between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying no insult was seriously intended.

Erdogan sought legal recourse against Jan Boehmermann after the comedian took aim at the Turkish president on his show on Germany’s ZDF public television channel in March. Merkel was criticized by political opponents for allowing Turkey to seek charges in Germany for offending a foreign head of state.

Boehmermann’s poem, which used obscenity to denounce the limits of tolerance in Erdogan’s Turkey and test the boundaries of free speech, didn’t demonstrably violate laws in Germany’s code about personal insults directed at foreign leaders, prosecutors in the western city of Mainz said Tuesday on the office’s website.

"The piece was part of a recognized satirical television show and any halfway-informed audience could discern that such statements involve many types of exaggeration and hyperbole that often lack a sense of seriousness," according to the prosecutors.

Merkel was struggling to unite the European Union behind an accord with Turkey to help stem the flow of migrants when the case gathered momentum in April. While she came under fire at home for granting Turkey’s request, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the comedian had committed a “crime against humanity” by insulting the Turkish head of state.

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