The calls on Wednesday came as many of the trial’s most titillating details – including those about Kachelmann and his accuser’s sex lives – were repeatedly broadcast on TV and described in newspapers.
The chairman of the Bundestag’s legal committee, Siegfried Kauder of the conservative Christian Democratic Union, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that this would discourage rape victims to come forward with accusations in the future.
“How does it help rape victims if they can’t trust that statements made to a court behind closed doors won’t later end up in the newspaper?” he told the newspaper.
He proposed stricter laws regulating the reporting of sex crimes by journalists.
Meanwhile, Kachelmann himself launched a blistering attack against journalists on Twitter, describing one publisher as coming “from the slums of German journalism.”
Prosecutors had 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.
But the case quickly devolved into a drama played out in newspapers and on TV, full of accusations, counter-accusations and changing accounts of the incident.
The Bavarian Christian Social Union‘s legal expert Norbert Geis told the same paper that the media urgently needed to regulate itself better, calling for a “honour code, by which the industry is duty-bound to report sexual violence trials in a much more restrained manner.”
The principle of open justice, in which the public has full access to legal trials, must not be pushed so hard by commentators “that the people affected are pilloried and pre-judged.”