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Court forced to probe ‘world's most expensive BBQ' for Bush

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George takes charge of the pig in 2006. Photo: DPA
16:34 CEST+02:00
A court in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Friday will consider whether the original bill from Chancellor Angela Merkel's June 2006 barbecue with then US President George W. Bush has to be made public. The event is reported to have cost €8.7 million.

The plaintiff in the case, who is currently serving a jail sentence for bank robbery near the southwestern city of Karlsruhe, filed his request under the state's freedom of information law.

“It is fairly far-reaching,” said Stefan Schulz, the plaintiff's lawyer. “Officials can only refuse to release information if it would pose a danger to the state or to a third party.”

He said he was optimistic that the ruling would be in favour of his client, who will not appear in court.

The overall cost of what has been dubbed by the German media as the “world's most expensive barbecue” in Trinwillershagen, where the US president from Texas was fed wild boar, has already been made public.

After a request from the far-right NPD party, the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state Interior Ministry reported in 2007 and 2008 that the visit had cost €8.7 million. Other German states ponied up some €5.7 million to send police officers.

However, the plaintiff has said he wants to see original documentation detailing the costs.

The data protection commissioner of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Karsten Neumann, said earlier this summer that the request for the cost breakdown would get his support, saying that he considered “ludicrous” a previous denial by the authorities.

Justice officials had justified their denial by saying releasing an exact cost breakdown would allow the public to infer how many security personnel had been brought in from other states and, therefore, had not been present in their own jurisdictions.

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All in all, some 12,000 police were called into service to provide security for the 36-hour presidential visit, during which Bush toured the Baltic Sea city of Stralsund before gleefully feasting on wild boar with Merkel.

A court spokesman said a decision in the case was not likely on Friday, but at a subsequent hearing.

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