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Weatherman Kachelmann acquitted of rape

The Local · 31 May 2011, 11:05

Published: 31 May 2011 11:05 GMT+02:00

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The roller-coaster 44-day trial ended with the ruling by a court in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, of in dubio pro reo, or when in doubt, for the accused.

But it remains to be seen if Kachelmann, long Germany's best-known weatherman, can ever return to the nation's leading news programme Tagesschau on public TV channel ARD.

Judge Michael Seidling stressed the court was not actually convinced of Kachelmann’s innocence, and nor did it necessarily believe that his former girlfriend had made a false accusation. Rather, the grounds for suspicion had in the course of lengthy trial been “diminished but not banished,” he concluded.

The judge sharply criticised defence lawyer Johann Schwenn, whom he said had repeatedly shown a lack of respect and decency before the court. But the sentence was greeted with jubilation in the courtroom by Kachelmann’s supporters, prompting cries from the public gallery.

The prosecutors accused the 52-year-old Swiss citizen and founder of the Meteomedia company of violently raping his former long-time girlfriend in February last year. The woman said he had held a knife to her throat as he attacked her in her apartment in the Rhein-Neckar county. Prosecutors had sought a jail sentence of four years and three months.

The 14-month ordeal began in March last year when police arrested Kachelmann at Frankfurt airport as he returned from Vancouver, Canada, where he had been covering the Winter Olympics for ARD.

What followed was a veritable saga as Kachelmann was detained on remand, and then released. His former girlfriend changed details of her allegations and at one point a court in Karlsruhe ruled that Kachelmann should be released from remand because the cases rested on the accuser’s word against the defendant’s.

Arrest warrants were issued then quashed. Defender Reinhard Birkenstock twice unsuccessfully challenged the partiality of the judges.

An expert commissioned by Kachelmann’s team, Bernd Brinkmann, was accused by the state prosecutors of bias.

The accuser at one point turned up to the Mannheim court shielding her face from photographers by holding up a book titled, “The Sociopath Next Door.” In September, she told reporters she no longer wanted to take part in the trial, though she eventually gave four days’ testimony.

In November, Kachelmann sacked his lead lawyer Birkenstock and co-defender Klaus Schroth and hired the Hamburg lawyer Johann Schwenn.

Schwenn accused the magazines Focus and Bunte of trying to influence the trial. He later forced Germany’s most famous feminist, Alice Schwarzer, onto the witness stand after she had written for Bild newspaper about her contact with the accuser’s therapist. Schwarzer exercised her right to refuse to testify on matters arising from her work as a journalist.

State prosecutors Oskar Gattner and Lars-Torben Oltrogge reported that Kachelmann’s ex-girlfriend had lied to accusers but maintained there was still a case to be heard.

Story continues below…

Prosecutors said Tuesday they would consider an appeal.

Following Tuesday’s verdict, Meteomedia announced he would return to work at the company he helped found. Kachelmann is also expected to return to the airwaves on Radio Basel, at which he used to take part in a weekly radio show, according to editor-in-chief Christian Heeb.

Meteomedia said in a statement: “Jörg Kachelmann will immediately return to his role at the Meteomedia group.”

DAPD/DPA/The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:57 May 31, 2011 by pepsionice
Probably one of the most unusual legal cases of the past decade in Germany. All in all.....it was a "he said....she said" episode. The fact that the accusation story changed is a dramatic piece and hints that the story was never factual in the first place. Someone will write a book over this story and eventually make a movie.
13:00 May 31, 2011 by ame64
Finally real justice is done. He wasnt gulity, that was obvious.

What a waste of time and money.
13:28 May 31, 2011 by T.J. Morton
Wow, that's an amazing ability you have there @ame64 - to analyze 14 months of legal proceedings so succinctly and so quickly. I guess Kachelmann should have hired you as his defender right from the start.
14:04 May 31, 2011 by iseedaftpeople
This entire case was one big travesty.

I am all for empowering victims and encouraging them to bring their rapists to justice, and assisting them with all the help and moral support they need.

But this here... from the beginning, it smacked of personal vendetta. We have a plaintiff who was caught lying numerous times during the trial, and yes, we have a philandering defendant who has broken about a dozen women's hearts... but ultimately, personal lifestyle, in this case a man who knows how to use his effect on women to his selfish advantage, is not something that courts should be burdened with, nor does it constitute any kind of criminal behavior. Morally reprehensible, yes, perhaps, but no crime. And so, my opinion, and that of the informed public, is rightly that the "victim" made up rape and assault charges to get back at her partner for extensive cheating.

In the end, there are no winners anyway after this court case. The "victim" plus feminazis like Alice Schwarzer have thrown the victims' rights movement back about half a decade by building a court case on false rape claims and surrounding it with the usual extremist "all men are rapists" rhethoric. After this case, who is still going to take rape allegations seriously (an outcome which also would have been likely after a - bogus - guilty verdict)? Also, the credibility of the prosecution is tarnished because from the get-go, they were not interested in the truth, but wanted to put Kachelmann behind bars.

As for Kachelmann, well... I understand he will be working as a weatherman again, but his reputation is forever ruined. All because of a vindictive former girlfriend and the feminist media circus wanting to make an example of his case. As they say - hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
14:31 May 31, 2011 by Juma2000
In the article from above, the one that each is commenting on here, it says "Judge Michael Seidling stressed the court was not actually convinced of Kachelmann¦#39;s innocence, and nor did it necessarily believe that his former girlfriend had made a false accusation." Which means it was a case of, like pepsionice said, "he said, she said" and nothing more or less.

This is not an exoneration for Kachelmann.

We aren't the ones who sat through the 44 days of trial. We have been fed, by the media, whatever they chose to feed us. Sometimes the media slammed Kachelmann and sometimes they slammed the accuser. If the judge felt that neither was believable enough to be, well, believed then it means that Kachelmann should go free but it doesn't mean that he didn't do the crime.

I for one don't believe he did exactly what he was accused of doing but I have only the media to thank for that opinion because I was not there and neither were any of you. We can only go by the decision of the one person charged with taking all evidence into consideration and rendering a verdict based on all of the evidence.
17:29 May 31, 2011 by Vadis
I agree with Juma2000 and "iseedaftpeople". Iseedaftpeople genius and I agree with you 100%, especially the part about these Feminazi's and that poison spitting Alice Schwarzer and her chicken head followers. These people are dangerous.
10:50 June 1, 2011 by dbert4
I'm just looking forward to not having to any longer hear about the case on the evening news.
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