It remains the case, despite the FDP's criminal complaint: because the Ministry of the Interior did not give the green light, the public prosecutor's office cannot investigate the main allegation against Minister Strobl. Does the opposition bite the teeth out of the CDU politician?
Stuttgart (dpa / lsw) - A good three weeks after the beginning of the affair surrounding Interior Minister Thomas Strobl, the opposition's hopes of investigations into the leaking of secrets against the CDU politician have been dashed. Despite repeated requests from the FDP and SPD, the public prosecutor's office in Stuttgart will not investigate Strobl on suspicion of violating official secrets. The ministry refused the authorization to do so months ago and this veto cannot be reversed, the prosecution told the German Press Agency. The opposition is outraged and speaks of "abuse of office" by the Ministry of the Interior.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) persistently refuses to comment on the report of the country's top data protection officer. The data protection officer Stefan Brink had previously stated that Strobl had broken the law by passing on a letter from the lawyer of a high-ranking police officer. Kretschmann explained on Wednesday that he could not comment on this for formal reasons. SPD faction leader Andreas Stoch, who requested Brink's report, told the dpa that it was a "cheap defense strategy" from Kretschmann.
Dead end: no investigations into official secrets without authorization
A spokeswoman for the prosecution informed the German Press Agency that the Ministry of the Interior - as is well known - refused the necessary authorization for investigations into breaches of official secrets at the beginning of the year. "Since this decision cannot be revoked, there is still a procedural obstacle to this criminal offense," said the spokeswoman. The FDP parliamentary group had asked the public prosecutor's office to investigate the treason of secrets.
The opposition accuses Strobl of having broken several laws by passing on the letter. After Strobl admitted that the letter had been passed on at the beginning of May, the public prosecutor's office initiated investigations into suspected illegal disclosure of court hearings. A week ago, the prosecution said they were also automatically investigating the FDP's criminal complaint. In addition to betrayal of secrets, Strobl is also accused of violating data protection and frustrating criminal prosecution in office. At least in terms of secret betrayal, this is a dead end.
FDP speaks of "trickery"
The FDP considers it a scandal that the judiciary is being prevented from doing its job. "This is an abuse of the right of empowerment," said interior expert Julia Goll of the dpa. "It cannot be that a minister and a ministry pull themselves out of the affair through trickery." When the department refused the authorization, it was not publicly known who passed the letter on to the journalist. At that time there were preliminary investigations against unknown persons. The suspicion of frustration in the office arises because the ministry did not grant the authorization under false conditions.
The ministry argues that the lawyer's letter is not an official document and is not an official secret, which is why the authorization for investigations was not granted. The lawyer for the high-ranking police officer who is being investigated for sexual harassment and who has been suspended from duty sent a letter to the ministry just before Christmas. In it he also offered the head of the house a personal interview with the accused official. Strobl saw it as a "poisoned offer". He wanted to ensure "maximum transparency" and prevent the other side from writing and being accused of cheating.
SPD considers the veto against investigations to be vulnerable
SPD faction leader Andreas Stoch criticized the green-black government. "Why does a government refuse such an authorization if it has nothing to hide?" After all, this is a decision by a public authority, which must not be taken arbitrarily or for self-protection. He doesn't believe that an interior minister can do whatever he wants. Stoch also thinks it is conceivable that such a decision could be subject to judicial review.
Kretschmann wants to remain silent
A spokeswoman for the State Ministry said that the statement by the state data protection officer covered the same facts as the regulatory procedure that was not completed by his authority. Therefore, "against the background of the ongoing criminal investigations, the Prime Minister will not comment on the matter". Kretschmann said on Tuesday afternoon that he did not have the letter, although Stoch had forwarded it to the state ministry on Monday evening.
"Of course, a prime minister can and must give an opinion on this," Stoch told the dpa. The government apparently thinks "all you have to do is pull the blanket over your head and hope that the storm will pass." Kretschmann's arguments are nothing but "evasions". FDP parliamentary group leader Hans-Ulrich Rülke accused the prime minister of looking for excuses. "He managed to get the scandal through to the State Department." The opposition is demanding Strobl's dismissal and is seeking a committee of inquiry.