German MP who downloaded child abuse images let off with €5,000 fine

Sebastian Edathy will not receive a criminal conviction after his trial was halted

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The Independent Online

A German MP who downloaded images and videos of child abuse has been let off with a fine.

Sebastian Edathy, a former member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), on Monday admitted to downloading the illegal content on his work laptop in 2013 – after previously saying he was innocent of any crime.

The 45-year-old was fined €5,000 at the Verden District Court, Spiegel reported. The money is to be paid to the Child Protection Federation of Lower Saxony in return for the judges abandoning the prosecution.

The process, which means Edathy will not have a criminal record, is possible due to the controversial Paragraph 153 rule. This means that a trial can be halted if both the prosecution and defence are in agreement and a fine is paid to a "public interest organisation".

In a statement read out by his lawyer, Edathy said: "I've now realized that I made a mistake, and it took me too long to realize it. The accusations are true."

However, writing on his Facebook page yesterday, Edathy denied that the court statement amounted to a confession, pointing out that he had not been found guilty. He added that he was pleased the proceedings had ended and said a "sequel was disproportionate".

The disgraced politician was put on trial after his name appeared on the client list of a Canadian company that was allegedly distributing child abuse.

Edathy had previously described his actions as "wrong" and "morally…out of order" but "legal", according to The Local.

An ongoing investigation is being carried out separately, after it was claimed Edathy and other politicians were tipped off before their homes and offices were raided by police.