A federal court in Leipzig this week deemed owning such items was “off-duty offence” that did not justify the immediate firing of civil servants known in Germany as Beamten. The presiding judges said each case needed to be weighed individually to see if other disciplinary measures would be adequate.
The ruling means a teacher from Hamburg and a customs inspector from Saarland can both hope to continue their careers while retaining their civil servant benefits. Child pornography was found on the computers of both men, who were fined €3,000 and €7,500 respectively, but they sued against their ensuing dismissals.
The court said the punishment of both men was relatively mild considering the possession of child pornography can lead to a two-year jail sentence, but that each case needed to be judged on its specific merits. For example, whether the offence disqualified the teacher from working with children.
“That is a difficult point for some professions,” said the presiding Judge Georg Herbert.
The final disciplinary measures for the teacher and customs inspector will now be decided by lower regional courts.