SPD politician admits buying child porn

Sebastian Edathy urged to leave the party

Former SPD politician Sebastian Edathy  in a  regional court in Verden, Germany, yesterday.  Photograph: Julian Stratenschulte/AP

Former SPD politician Sebastian Edathy in a regional court in Verden, Germany, yesterday. Photograph: Julian Stratenschulte/AP

 

Senior figures in Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) have demanded the resignation from the party of a former politician who has admitted owning child pornography.

Sebastian Edathy was fined €5,000 after agreeing to charges that he bought and possessed child pornography after downloading it on to his Bundestag laptop. “We remain stunned that Sebastian Edathy has shown no regret,” said Thorsten Schäfer-Gumbel, SPD leader in the state of Hesse. “We expect that Mr Edathy will leave the SPD.”

The 45-year-old, once a rising star, was on trial in Lower Saxony for downloading videos and images of naked children and youths in sexualised poses, and for possessing further such images on CDs and in books.

In 2011, Canadian investigators raided a distributor of child pornography. They passed on to German investigators a list of German customers with Mr Edathy’s name.

Loopholes closed

On the second trial day yesterday, defence attorney Christian Noll read out a handwritten text from his client: “The accusations are correct. I have realised that I made a mistake. I needed a long time to realise this. I regret what I did.”

Asked by Judge Jürgen Seifert, Mr Edathy confirmed the words were his. The statement ends the case and leaves Mr Edathy without a criminal record.

Ending cases in exchange for a payment is not uncommon in the German justice system. The procedure attracted controversy last year when Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone paid a fine to end a bribery case against him.

Outside court, Mr Edathy’s attorney insisted his client had only confessed to having files on his computer but had not commented on their contents. Thus, the attorney added, Mr Edathy had not confessed to possessing child pornography and had not broken the law.

Later, Mr Edathy added he had not confessed to anything, writing on his Facebook profile: “I would like to draw attention to the fact that ‘confession’ is not part of my statement today.”

Yesterday’s settlement doesn’t end the public inquiry into the disgraced politician.

A Bundestag committee is still investigating whether he was tipped off by party colleagues about the investigation. Two days after Mr Edathy retired from politics a year ago, citing “health reasons”, police raided his home and Bundestag office. They were unable to recover his work laptop, which the former MP said had been stolen. In court yesterday, onlookers protested the settlement.

“The missing laptop is important evidence, I’m offering a reward,” said a woman. She claimed to have €1,500 on her person before she was expelled from the courtroom.