Christian political colleagues, Muslim groups and a majority of Germans asked in a poll have said it was inappropriate to express joy at the extra-judicial killing of the al-Qaida leader over the weekend.
Merkel initially said in a statement on Monday, “I am pleased that it was possible to kill Bin Laden.”
But on Saturday she told the Passauer Neue Presse, “Bin Laden was the head of an international terror network which commissioned monstrous crimes. We can, and may, be relieved that her can no longer harm people.”
She said that not only the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, but also much of the Muslim world had expressed their relief that Bin Laden could no longer commission any more acts of terror.
“Bin Laden had abused Islam,” she said. “His hate-filled acts against innocents had nothing to do with religion; they were more a mockery of all religions.”
But a Hamburg judge said on Saturday he was officially citing the chancellor for public sanction of a criminal act, which is in itself a crime.
Heinz Uthmann told Der Spiegel he was appalled by Merkel’s initial statement about being happy that bin Laden had been killed.
“I have heard many lies, but that is something that as a taxpayer I do not have to accept,” he said.
Someone found guilty of publicly sanctioning a crime can face up to three years in prison or a fine, the magazine wrote.
Uthmann has submitted a two-page citation against Merkel to the Hamburg state prosecutor. His argument is that Bin Laden’s killing was a crime, that the American soldiers did not have legal authority to kill him.
“The cock-and-bull story that the aim was to carry out the international arrest warrant, not to kill him is deceptive because soldiers from the USA were not authorised by international or Pakistani law to carry out arrests in Abbattabad,” he said.
“It is simply not appropriate to publicly celebrate the death of a political enemy,” he added.
Merkel’s comment was, “amazing for the daughter of a Christian minister, and devoid of all values such as human dignity, compassion or respect for the law.”
Uthmann is realistic about the chances of his citation being taken further.
“No German state prosecutor will have the courage to charge Mrs Merkel on this,” he said, admitting he expected his citation to end up ignored. “The Hamburg authorities will forward it to Berlin and there it will lie for a while before it ends up in the bin.”
But he said he wanted to make a point. “I wanted to express my outrage and shock at this undignified and poor-taste behaviour.”