Home Foreign Europe court rejects online anonymity suit by German murder convicts

Europe court rejects online anonymity suit by German murder convicts


Paris,   –      A European court on Thursday rejected a claim by two German murder convicts, who said that their rights to privacy were violated because they are named in online press material about their convictions.

The case was taken by two half-brothers who were convicted in 1993 of murdering a well-known actor, Walter Sedlmayr.

They were jailed for life and were released on parole in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

The brothers, who were named only by initials in court documentation, had asked German courts to order a radio station, a magazine and a newspaper to anonymous reports about the case on their websites.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Germany’s Federal Court of Justice had been right to reject their demands, overruling lower courts.

“The approach to covering a given subject was a matter of journalistic freedom, and reporting individualised information was an important aspect of the press’s work,’’ the ECHR ruled.

It noted that the case remained of public interest and that the brothers had themselves contacted the press when trying to reopen the case in 2004.

“The applicants were not simply private individuals unknown to the public at the time when they requested anonymity.

“The reports in question were objective, concerned their trial or their attempts to reopen the case, and, as such, were information capable of contributing to debate in a democratic society,’’ the ECHR said.

The ECHR also noted that the reports were not widely published, especially since some of them required paid access or a subscription.

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