Ex-Nazi's invasion of privacy case against journalists dismissed


A GERMAN court has dismissed an invasion of privacy case filed by a former Waffen SS officer against two Dutch journalists who interviewed him.

In 2010 Heinrich Boere (90), was sentenced to life imprisonment after admitting to killing three Dutch civilians in 1944.

Two Dutch journalists, Jelle Visser and Jan Ponsen, made a secret recording of an interview with him after arriving unannounced in his retirement home room in 2009.

Yesterday the former Nazi failed with his complaint that this interview was a breach of his privacy.

In the recording Boere admits three killings in 1944.

“I was a fool but I was a soldier and I had to do it: an order is an order,” he said in remarks broadcast on Dutch television in 2009 before his already scheduled trial. “Otherwise I would have been killed.” After the war Boere, who was raised in Maastricht and volunteered for the Waffen SS in 1940, was imprisoned in a prisoner of war camp but later escaped to Germany.

Several Dutch extradition attempts failed and in 1949 a Dutch court found him guilty in absentia of the three killings.

In March 2010, after a long legal battle, Boere was sentenced to life imprisonment and is now behind bars in a prison hospital. The German court dismissed the charges, accepting the Dutch journalists’ claims that they were not aware how, unlike in the Netherlands, journalistic research in Germany does not take precedence over the right to privacy when no new information is revealed.

“We are relieved, that is press freedom,” said Mr Visser.

The Association of German Journalists welcomed the end of the trial but said it would have preferred if the court had ruled that “investigating Nazi atrocities has priority over the right to privacy of the perpetrator”.

The state prosecutor had called for the journalists’ acquittal, agreeing with the journalists’ defence counsel that Boere was a “historical personality” and thus a legitimate interviewee.

The trial had attracted widespread attention in the Netherlands, where the case revived lingering doubts about German prosecutors’ zeal in prosecuting surviving former Nazi officials.