German comedian to seek reversal of injunction sought by Erdogan

German comedian Jan Boehmermann will seek to reverse a court-issued injunction that prohibits him from reciting parts of a poem that insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

His lawyer, Christian Schertz, said Wednesday that the Hamburg-based court's decision to grant Erdogan's request for an injunction is "blatantly wrong" and based on "technical errors."

Schertz told dpa he will file an appeal against the injunction and push for a decision from the Constitutional Court if necessary, Schertz added.

Judges in Hamburg decided Tuesday that Boehmermann's poem is satirical and therefore subject to artistic freedom, but that it contains sexual references about Erdogan that are "slanderous and defamatory."

"You also can't cut up a painting and only allow parts of it to be shown," Schertz said Wednesday.

Aired on March 31 by public broadcaster ZDF, the poem accuses Erdogan of watching child pornography and performing sex acts with animals, but also satirizes some of the president's authoritarian policies.

If Boehmermann fails to respect the injunction, which is applicable across Germany, he can be fined up to 250,000 euros (282,000 dollars) or jail time of up to six months, according to the ruling.

The court said its decision was based on balancing freedom of opinion and artistic expression on the one hand and the personal rights of the plaintiff on the other.

The German courts system allows the plaintiff to choose in which court to file its complaint. The court in Hamburg is known for being particularly strict in defamation cases.

"The court has found that the statements in the poem are undeniably slanderous and defamatory and that it is not a question of taste," Erdogan's German lawyer, Michael von Sprenger, said after the decision was announced.

Separately, Chancellor Angela Merkel last month granted a request from Erdogan to criminally investigate Boehmermann under a little-used law against insulting foreign heads of state.

Prosecutors have not decided whether to file charges. A spokesman for their office in Mainz on Wednesday declined to comment on whether the Hamburg court's decision would influence the criminal proceedings.

Both cases have prompted a debate in Germany about the limits of free speech and Merkel's relationship with Turkey as she seeks to enlist Ankara in her bid to end the refugee crisis that saw 1.1 million migrants enter Germany in 2015.

Last update: Wed, 18/05/2016 - 19:12

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