Germany investigates comedian over satirical poem about Erdogan

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 6:34 PM

Gerd Deutschler, senior public prosecutor in the western city of Mainz, said at least twenty "private individuals" in Germany had filed a complaint against January Boehmermann, the iconoclastic host of the late-night "Neo Magazin Royale" on the public ZDF channel, and also against the broadcaster.

German prosecutors are investigating a comedian who recited an obscene poem about Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a satirical indicate on national television.

Gerd Deutschler, senior public prosecutor in the western city of Mainz, said at least twenty "private individuals" in Germany had filed a complaint against January Boehmermann, the iconoclastic host of the late-night "Neo Magazin Royale" on the public ZDF channel, and also against the broadcaster.

ZDF had already removed video of the poem from its website, saying it didn't meet the standards expected of its satire shows.

Deutschler said Boehmermann was being investigated principally on suspicion of the crime of "offending foreign states' organs and representatives". He said the nationality of the complainants was not known.

Boehmermann, who's made a title for himself by pushing the boundaries of satire in a once-staid media landscape, made clear on the indicate that he was courting controversy.

Before reading his poem, Boehmermann referred to a satirical song broadcast on NDR television that'd mocked Erdogan for his authoritarian treatment of journalists. That led Turkey to call in Germany'south messenger to allow an explanation, although Germany rejected Turkish protests.

Speaking as if he were addressing Erdogan, Boehmermann explained that the NDR broadcast had fallen below the right to artistic freedom, press freedom and freedom of opinion.

He then offered adorn impermissible "abusive criticism", saying "You're not allowed to do this", and read the poem. Besides its crude sexual references, the piece accused Erdogan of repressing minorities and mistreating Kurds and Christians. It was shown with Turkish subtitles.

ZDF said it'd allow the prosecutor with a duplicate of the video, as requested, but couldn't comment further on a live investigation.

The incident is awkward for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who's spearheaded EU efforts to safe Turkey'south assistance in dealing with Europe'south migrant crisis. In a telephone conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, she said the poem had been "deliberately offensive".

The crime in question carries a maximum punishment of three years' imprisonment, but Deutschler said it wasn't yet clear if that'd apply in this case.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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