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Crime

Weatherman acquitted of rape in 'trial of the year'

It's a case that has gripped the nation. Over 100 people crammed into a court in Mannheim on Tuesday to hear the verdict in the case of a weather forecaster accused of raping his ex-girlfriend.

Jörg Kachelmann

Kachelmann is a well-known German television personality

On Tuesday, a court in Mannheim acquitted Jörg Kachelmann, a Swiss-born television meteorologist, of charges of rape. Judges said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

It had been called the "trial of the year." For almost nine months, 52-year old Kachelmann has been before the court, accused of raping his former long-term girlfriend. She claimed he had threatened her with a kitchen knife following an argument and raped her in February 2010. Kachelmann consistently denied the allegations.

Police arrested him at Frankfurt Airport a month later, when Kachelmann returned to Germany from the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. If he had been found guilty, he would have faced four years and three months in jail.

Kachelmann is the owner of Meteomedia, the largest private weather forecaster in Germany. His former employer ARD - the main German public television channel - said for the moment they would not be asking him to return to work for them.

The verdict was greeted with a cheer from around 100 fans who had gathered in the court on Tuesday morning. However, judge Michael Seidling made it clear that the verdict did not necessarily mean that Kachelmann was innocent, only that there was insufficient evidence against him.

The judge strongly criticized the behavior of defense lawyer Johann Schwenn. Schwenn was said to have shown a lack of respect for the court during the trial.

His client leaves court a free man.

Author: Joanna Impey (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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