Former German chancellor wins court fight to ban book

2015-05-05 18:37


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Cologne (dpa) - Former German chancellor Helmut Kohl won a legal battle Tuesday to block a bestselling book that he did not want published and that contains disparaging quotes he made about other politicians.

The Cologne Regional Court unheld a lower court's November ruling that banned the further sale of the book Vermaechtnis: Die Kohl-Protokolle (Legacy - the Kohl Transcripts), which had been published in October.

In it, Kohl, who was chancellor when the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago and ushered in the unification of Germany, dismissed the current chancellor and fellow Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party member, Angela Merkel, as a political lightweight who "couldn't even hold her fork and knife properly".

The book was written by the ghostwriter of three volumes of Kohl's memoirs, Heribert Schwan, with whom Kohl has since had a falling-out, and Tilman Jens.

It is based on 600 hours of interviews that Kohl made with Schwan from 2001 to 2002 for the memoirs. The recordings were handed over to Kohl in March 2014 after he waged a five-year battle with Schwan for control of the material.

The court on Tuesday ruled that the release of the quotes was unlawful because there was an "implicit confidentiality agreement" between Kohl and Schwan and the book may no longer be provided for sale.

Kohl's attorneys said the man who led Germany for 16 years intended to seek damages from Schwan, Tilman and the Heyne-Verlag publishing house.

In the first ruling, the Cologne District Court banned the majority of quotes, but the Regional Court went further and banned all the quotes, which included statements from Kohl about the late Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat and German politicians Christian Wulff, Richard von Weizsaecker and Klaus Toepfer.

Schwan expressed outrage at the ruling. "It is ridiculous," he said. "The court has no idea."

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