Berlin aims to fight piracy on the high seas

The German government wants the country’s marine forces to fight international piracy.

Berlin aims to fight piracy on the high seas
'Aaaaaaaaaaargh!' Photo: DPA

After recent pirate incidents off the coast of Somalia, leaders of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) want to set up a committee to explore how German naval forces can clean up the high seas, German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday.

The coalition work group will operate under the auspices of the Chancellery and make its suggestions before the government breaks for summer.

Members of the group told the paper that the current pirate situation is unacceptable.

Piracy is considered under the jurisdiction of the police, not the navy, which is why German forces were only able to act as emergency assistance during the recent pirate attacks near Somalia. German military forces are not authorized to take on police work according to the law, but the committee will explore a possible change to the laws to allow more effective anti-piracy operations.


Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

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In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

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