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Child abuse

German politician Edathy indicted on child-porn charges

A German public prosecutor has brought child pornography charges against former German parliamentarian Sebastian Edathy. His whereabouts remain unclear.

German politician faces charges

The state prosecutor's office in the northern German city of Hanover on Thursday announced it was charging suspended Social Democrat (SPD) politician Sebastian Edathy with possession of pornographic photos and videos involving children.

A court in the nearby northern German city of Verden will next decide whether or not the case should go to trial.

Edathy resigned from the German parliament, the Bundestag, in February, citing health grounds. Shortly afterwards, police raided his apartment and offices in the state of Lower Saxony and in Berlin searching for evidence after his name was found on the customer list of a Canadian company that distributed child pornography.

The prosecutor alleged at the time that Edathy had bought at least 31 videos or sets of photographs from the company showing naked children between 9 and 14 years of age.

According to DPA news agency, data recovered from a backup copy of a laptop that Edathy registered as stolen in February has provided further details of Edathy's internet activities on websites featuring child pornography.

Edathy denies accusations

The politician has always denied the accusations.

Media reports say that he is currently living at an unknown location in southern Europe.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) suspended Edathy's membership when the allegations emerged.

The case sparked a major political scandal at the start of Chancellor Angela Merkel's third term as the leader of a cross-party coalition comprising her conservatives and the SPD.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, who was then federal agriculture minister, resigned following suspicions that he had leaked confidential information about the investigation while serving as federal interior minister in Merkel's previous cabinet.

Friedrich tipped off the SPD after last year's September election that Edathy was being secretly investigated, saying it was his job to inform Merkel if the integrity of any potential cabinet or other senior ministry post candidates was in doubt.

Headed high-profile committee

The 44-year-old Edathy rose to prominence in the German political landscape after heading a high-profile parliamentary inquiry into neo-Nazi murders for 19 months.

The committee concluded in its report that police had made scores of errors in its investigation of the series of murders, having falsely assumed that a Turkish gang was behind the killings.

They were in fact carried out by the so-called National Socialist Underground (NSU), a far-right group. Eight small-business proprietors of Turkish origin, a Greek immigrant and a German policewoman were killed by members of the group between 2000 and 2007.

One member of the group, Beate Zschäpe, has been on trial for 14 months in Munich. Two other key suspects died in an apparent suicide in 2011 that brought the group to light.

The committee recommended among other things that more people from ethnic minorities should be hired by police to help change the mentality within the force.

tj,dr/ipj (dpa, AFP, AP)

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