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Sachsensumpf (German: [ˈzaksənˌzʊmpf], "Saxony swamp") is the name given by journalists to a political, judicial and intelligence scandal in the German state of Saxony climaxing in 2007 when domestic intelligence dossiers about the purported implication of judicial and business figures in cases of child prostitution and illegal property deals during the early 1990s became public, raising the suspicion of parts of the state's government and judiciary being corrupted by criminal networks.
According to the investigating authorities and the majority in the state's parliament, no substantial evidence for the existence of such criminal and corruptive networks could be found. They assert that the (now disbanded) organised crime office at the state's domestic intelligence service and its main source, a Leipzig police detective, had overstated the suspected cases in an unprofessional way, and some journalists had further exaggerated the facts. The opposition and some media still had doubts about the official explanation, even after a parliamentary enquiry committee had completed its work. Former victims of child prostitution as well as journalists reporting on the case have been charged with libel (but were eventually acquitted), raising warnings by press freedom advocates.
The "Sachsensumpf" scandal involves several criminal cases dating back to the 1990s. Whether or not they are connected with each other, is a matter of debate.
One of the cases that was believed to be connected was the child prostitution case of an illegal brothel in Western Leipzig, named "Jasmin", where the pimp and former boxer Michael W. alias Martin Kugler exploited eight girls aged 13 to 19 for sexual services in 1992 and early 1993. The brothel, hidden in a flat, was raided by the police on 28 January 1993. The Landgericht (district court) of Leipzig convicted Kugler of human trafficking, in coincidence with pimping, promotion of prostitution and sexual abuse of children and sentenced him to four years and two months in prison. The presiding judge in this trial, Jürgen Niemeyer, called the verdict "a major concession (to the perpetrator), but only just acceptable." However, none of the clients of the brothel was identified; the girls were never even asked to identify them during the whole investigation or the trial.
Another case was the attempted murder of Martin Klockzin in October 1994, then head of the legal department of the Leipzig Housing Company (Leipziger Wohnungs- und Baugesellschaft, LWB). The LWB is the successor to the former state-owned housing enterprise that administered all flats in Leipzig during East Germany's communist era, until being privatised after Germany's reunification. The assassination attempt was believed to be linked to illegal property deals during the privatisation of real estate in the post-reunification years. Three of the hitmen received life sentences, while their employers were initially not identified.
Several years later, in 1999 and 2000, detective chief inspector Georg Wehling, head of the K26 office (responsible for organised crime) at Leipzig's criminal investigation department, re-investigated the Klockzin murder attempt, identifying the hitmen's employers who were real estate agents from Bavaria. In the course of the investigation, Wehling found that these estate agents had also blackmailed Klockzin by threatening to reveal his "child molesting". This aroused Wehling's suspicion that Klockzin might have been a client of the "Jasmin" brothel and he also re-opened that child prostitution case. Upon his re-examination, the former pimp Michael W. claimed that his lenient sentence was part of a deal, not to "wash his dirty linen" in public, i.e. not to identify the brothel's clients during the trial. Moreover, he now claimed that Klockzin as well as the estate agents who had contracted his killing, had been clients of the "Jasmin" brothel. Consequently, inspector Wehling initiated proceedings for perversion of justice against judge Jürgen Niemeyer, who had presided over the trial in 1994.
History of the Affair
The still unsolved affair goes back to what the former forced prostitutes said when being interviewed again by the police in 2000. They claim that the former vice president of the Leipzig's Country Court (Landgericht), who was their judge in the trial of 1994, Jürgen Niemeyer, was one of the visitors in the brothel. Further the women claim, that Norbert Röger as well was a former visitor in the brothel. Back then he was a public prosecutor in Leipzig and since January 2011, he is President of the Country Court in Chemnitz (Landgericht Chemnitz). The policemen who conducted the interrogation, later denied to speak publicly about it.
In 2003 in the Saxony State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Landesamt für Verfassungsschutz Sachsen - LfV) a department for organized crime (OK) was established. This unit had ten employees and was headed by the former public prosecutor Simone Henneck (now Skroch). One of the case complexes of this unit, which was internally registered under the operation name 'offside' (German 'Abseits'), had alleged mafia structures in Leipzig as subject. These included suspected illegal land transactions in the 1990s, prostitution, blackmail and cross-links between political, judicial and criminal persons. This complex was also associated with the assassination attempt on Klockzin in 1994. From 2004 to 2006 the unit assembled files of 15.600 pages that fill about 100 folders together.
The jurisdiction of a domestic intelligence agency investigating organized crime was controversial from the start (in Germany this is normally part of specialized police units). In July 2005, the Saxony Constitutional Court (sächsische Verfassungsgerichtshof) declared the State Constitutional Protection Act (Landesverfassungsschutzgesetz) of that time as partly unconstitutional and thus limited the admissibility of an observation of organized crime by the department within the Saxony State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (LfV).
On 12 August 2005 a report was issued. It overlooked the situation and concluded, that 'the aspect of a danger for the constitution and the free, basic democratic order in Germany [...] in all case complexes was given'. On the basis of this report, the former Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière decided, that the observation of organized crime, including the case of complex 'offside' by the domestic intelligence agency will continue. It is said, that Mr de Maizière appreciated the work of Simone Henneck (now Skroch) and her department, but he was not taking care for a criminal investigation by the Public Prosecutor's Office (Staatsanwaltschaft), nor did he inform the parliament on the available evidence. Since 2014 in Germany a discussion started, in which way he may unconsciously or aware has protected the perpetrators by doing it that way. The report from the 12 August 2005 shall show, that the Saxony State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (LfV) knew of alleged sexual abuse of children by named and known prosecutors and judges in the second quarter of 2005 already.
In March 2006, the Data Protection Supervisor (Datenschutzbeauftragter) of the Free State of Saxony, Andreas Schurig, launched a review in how far the department for organized crime (OK) still collects data - because it only had a limited mandate to monitor organized crime. He concluded, that the documents were collected illegally and should be destroyed. The department was disbanded in 2006. On 15 May 2007 the Parliamentary Control Commission (Parlamentarische Kontrollkommission) of the Saxony Parliament decided, in accordance with Albrecht Buttolo (who followed Mr de Maiziere as Minister for the Interior in November 2005), that the material is not to be deleted, but should be used to further brighten the identified issues. Also in May 2007, the first media reports surfaced on the content of the files from the disbanded department and the so-called 'offside' case complex. There the names Niemeyer and Röger appeared as potential customers in the brothel.
In a speech at a special meeting of the Saxony parliament on 5 June 2007, the Minister for the Interior Mr Buttolo confirmed the existence of active and dangerous criminal networks in Saxony, this speech became known as the 'Mafia-Speech'. The General Attorney's Office of Germany (Bundesanwaltschaft) was informed and had a look into the issue, but in June 2007 declared, that there is no reasonable suspicion for the existence of a criminal organization/network. The Prosecuting Attorney's Office of Dresden (Staatsanwaltschaft Dresden) began to investigate against judge Jürgen Niemeyer on the basis of obstruction of justice in the time between end of June to early July 2007. It received intelligence files from 'offside III' complex.
In early July 2007, when the so-called 'Saxony corruption affair' or 'Saxonyswamp' became a topic in different national media, the Saxony State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which controllership was recently given to Reinhard Boos, assumed that the head of the department for organized crime, Simone Henneck, had tampered with the files. She made it look like that reports, which were exclusively based on the information from Detective Chief Inspector Georg Wehling, would also have been supported by other neutral sources. After that, an internal investigation against Henneck was initiated. Chief prosecutor Christian Avenarius, the spokesman for the Prosecuting Attorney's Office of Dresden (Staatsanwaltschaft Dresden) said, that the material of the police officer hardly contained any reliable facts that would make legal proceedings reasonable.
On the 26 August 2007, two months after his 'Mafia-Speech', the Minister for the Interior distanced himself clearly from what he said in that speech. At the time he completely trusted the accuracy of the material, now however, under the given circumstances of significant errors in the elaboration the material, the information is questionable. Data collection and data analysis was put together and a check on the credibility of the information has not been made. The reports filed by the chief inspector did not stand tests by the Prosecuting Attorney's Office (Staatsanwaltschaft) and the State Office for Criminal Investigations (Landeskriminalamt). Many references were false or overstated. This is not a 'swamp', you can not even of talk about 'larger puddles anymore'.
An external review committee headed by the retired judge from the Federal Court (Bundesgerichtshof), Dietrich Beyer, which included also former director of the Hessian Saxony State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Lutz Irrgang, stated in its interim report serious deficiencies in Saxony's State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, particularly with the department for organized crime (OK). Intelligence service regulations have been violated to a significant extent, the supervision of the department has been neglected by both, the board of directors as well as the Ministry of the Interior (Innenministerium). Members of the unit had insufficient intelligence training to obtain information, policemen from the intermediate service had been used. The head of the department itself had not any specialized training or further education. Source reports were not questioned on their resilience, even self-evident inconclusive information has been processed as applicable. Contrary to corresponding units in other federal states, who analyze data to advise the government and coordinate with the police authorities, the unit of Saxony tried to find suspicious circumstances at any price and individual employees acted 'grimly' and 'overeager'. The result was a 'disaster'.
In the lawsuit from 2008 the two girl's who were forced into prostitution declared, that the high-level lawyers of Leipzig were their punters in the Jasmine. The convicted pimp Martin Kugler testified, that his lawyer back then agreed with the court on a lenient sentence, provided that Kugler will not wash 'dirty laundry'. However, this assertion was later revoked by Kugler. The Public Prosecutor's Office (Staatsanwaltschaft) gave no credibility to the testimony of the women and cancelled the investigation against the lawyers; both lawyers received compensation from the state of Saxony. The investigating officers were displaced, the commissariat K26 was dissolved. In addition, several cases against Georg Wehling, the former head of K26 were initiated and he was suspended from duty.
Against the former forced prostitutes who testified as witnesses in the trial against the lawyers, a process was initiated on 15 December 2011 at the District Court of Dresden, on the basis of libel. That process was officially opened on 6 March 2012. A connection with the inconsistencies on the so-called 'ownerless properties', which were sold in Leipzig during the past few years in the hundreds, has not been demonstrated, but is examined by a group of parliamentarians of the Saxony parliament. It is checked whether the same group of people involved in that do play a role in the Saxonyswamp as well. However, to that parliamentary committee (Landtagsuntersuchungsausschuss) for the inquiry of the 'Saxonyswamp' the city of Leipzig presents a -No-, when it comes to the question of accessing corresponding files in the archive. Mayor Jung was citing an evaluation from which making these files public would be unlawful, because they are not part of the investigation.
Simone Skroch (formerly Henneck), former Head of the department organized crime at the LfV, confirmed as a key witness in the investigation committee of the 'Landtag' (legislative assembly in Germany) beginning in March 2013, that the 'existence of continuously acting structures of the former Ministry of State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit - MfS / DDR) in complex connection with organized crime' is given. Ms Skroch revered to economy, public administration and the sex trade business. There has actually been leads 'that from people within the organized crime, consciously and purposefully situations were set up to blackmail individuals, partially in conjunction with bribery and corruption'. The goal of these proceedings was to bring certain groups like staffers, public officials, politicians and other representatives of public life into 'dependencies'. Yet in March 2013, she still faced disciplinary and judicial inquiry. On 2 July 2014, the political parties of SPD, Greens and the Left proclaimed their findings on the 'Saxonyswamp'.They stated that there was no viable evidence for the existence 'of a corrupt network'. However, they complained that the government had not seriously run the enlightenment of the affair, but had even prevented it. In the process several employees were affected and were 'downright destroyed in their professional and social status'.
Coverage and legal consequences
From the summer of 2007 Jürgen Roth reported on the 'Saxonyswamp' affair (suspicion of involvement in mafia-like structures from high politicians, lawyers, policemen and journalists). For his covering Roth was severely criticised by journalist Reiner Burger in a series of articles in the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). Burger demonstrated that Roth has not spoken with affected people directly, as example. In this context, Roth had to retract statements on his website about a businessman. The district court in Dresden sentenced him in early 2008 to a fine for libel. A critical comment on the situation from Jürgen Roth was published on the website 'mafialand.de'.
The investigative committee of the Saxony Landtag in 2009 came to no conclusive result on the Saxonyswamp. CDU and FDP party saw it as disproved, Greens and the Left could find no evidence for or against it. Access to records was widely withheld from the investigative committee by the state government. The Public Prosecutor's Office will not further investigate into the 'Saxonyswamp', since it sees the allegations as refuted. There are, however, single politicians that see the situation very critical, and those politicians are in favour for further investigating of the affair and the criminal network in Saxony.
The journalists Arndt Ginzel and Thomas Datt reported in the German 'Spiegel' and 'Zeit Online' on the case. Both were accused of libel and defamation. Amongst other things they were accused of defamatory allegations against the Saxon lawyers. In one case, they were condemned by the district court of Dresden on 13 August 2010 to a fine of 50 daily rates of 50 € / 2500 €, which the two journalists were disputing. On 10 December 2012 the Regional Court did reverse that ruling. The presiding judge Martin Schultze-Griebler took the view, that under established practice of the higher law, media utterances are to be seen in context of the situation. Finally, after the General Attorney of the Free State of Saxony has withdrawn a previously given objection, that ruling is legally valid.
On the occasion of the libel trial against the women that were forced into prostitution, Jana Simon and Sigrid Reinichs of the 'Zeitmagazin' were again reporting on the topic. They especially shine a light on the situation of Mandy Kopp, who was forced into prostitution at age 16 in the brothel. In November 2008 Beatrice E., who was forced to 'work' in the brothel along with Mandy Kopp, was accused of libel as well. Both accused Jürgen Niemeyer of being a visitor to the brothel in the 90s. That process was discontinued in October 2013. The Annual Report 2012/13 from Reporters Without Borders called the lawsuit against journalists in the 'Saxonyswamp' as one of five reasons for a slightly deteriorated assessment of press freedom in Germany (at that time 17th place among 179 countries on the global rankinglist).
Martin Klockzin started a lawsuit against a report in the online edition of the 'Stern' magazin on 22 June 2007 which was released under the title 'The Saxony corruption scandal: A thriller from Leipzig's swamp'. He had success against the publisher, the journalist and his own former secretary. He demanded the payment of a compensation for infringing his personality rights. The opinion of the final ruling was, that the report in the magazine was onesided in favour for the view of his former secretary. Klockzin did reject the request for an interview on the issue in the first place, however, he was not informed what exact the allegations were, which finally have been noted down in the article. The article has therefore given the impression, that Klockzin 'was a pedophile, had a sexual relationship with an underage girl named Lissy, was corrupt, part of a criminal network in Leipzig, did not fulfill his duties and that he threatened his former secretary by writing her short messages whose content was, to strangle her cat and to push her car of the road with the help of three motorcyclists known to him'. It was not possible to prove these allegations and therefore he was unlawfully insulted in his honor. The Country Court awarded a monetary compensation in the amount of 75.000 Euro, which was reduced later by the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht - OLG) to the amount of 50.000 Euro. Later the Federal High Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) basically confirmed Klockzin's right to claim a compensation, but at the same time criticized errors in the calculation of the actual amount and gave the case back to the previous court. In Germany's juristic literature this ruling is quoted as leading decision on issues of monetary compensation for violations of personal rights by statements on the Internet.
The 'Lausitzer Rundschau' published an article on 3 July 2014, titled: 'Saxonyswamp affair: Clear is as good as nothing'. The report was about the end of the process, citing John Lichdi of the political party 'The Greens': 'The investigation against the accused prosecutors and judges was never operated seriously and was handled to end with no decent result from the beginning.' 
Also the newspaper 'Welt am Sonntag' published an article on the occasion of the final report from the investigative committee in October 2014. There it was noted, that many questions do remain unanswered. It is remarkable how hard the Saxony's judicial authorities pushed against those - especially journalists - who doubted the official explanation and still believed in the existence of criminal structures.
Gunter Pirntke: 'Black Swamp in Saxony: A cartel of corruption and cover-up' - 'Schwarzer Sumpf in Sachsen: Ein Kartell aus Korruption und Vertuschung' Grin Verlag, München 2012, erweiterte, aktualisierte Ausgabe, ISBN 978-3-640-45067-1
- International Press Institute (11 September 2014). "On trial for criminal defamation, German freelance journalists faced "existencial threat"".
- Thomas Datt; Arndt Ginzel (26 June 2008). "Die Geschichte des "Jasmin"". Zeit Online.
- Jana Simon, Sigrid Reinichs in the 'Zeitmagazin' (Die Zeit) Nr. 10, März 2012
- Sigrid Reinichs: http://www.zeit.de/2012/10/Mandy-Kinderbordell-Sachsensumpf/komplettansicht
- see: Vf 67-II-04 - quoted in: http://www.verfassungsgerichtshof.sachsen.de/content/911.php
- Sabine Beikler: http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/deutschland/korruptionsaffaere-in-sachsen-die-dunkle-seite-der-macht/980400.html
- Thomas Schade, Gunnar Saft: http://www.sz-online.de/nachrichten/minister-buttolo-warnt-vor-mafia-1534097.html
- Reiner Burger: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/sachsen-erhebliche-maengel-im-verfassungsschutz-1463845.html
- Alexander Wendt: http://www.focus.de/magazin/archiv/sachsen-affaere-nichts-als-aufgepeppte-dossiers_aid_225495.html
- Hubert Kemper: http://www.freiepresse.de/THEMEN/6-August-Buttolo-distanziert-sich-von-Mafia-Rede-artikel987581.php
- Thomas Datt, Arndt Ginzel: http://www.zeit.de/online/2008/27/sachsensumpf-jasmin
- Thomas Datt, Arndt Ginzel
- Jörg Schurig: http://www.sz-online.de/nachrichten/artikel.asp?id=3005526
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-11. Retrieved 2015-01-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-12-13. Retrieved 2015-01-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Markus Bernhardt: http://www.jungewelt.de/2009/06-26/054.php
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-01-03. Retrieved 2015-01-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Az. 231 Cs 900 Js 28869/08 - http://openjur.de/u/59830.html openJur 2010, 3256
- Az. 12 Ns 900 Js 28869/08 http://openjur.de/u/599629.html openJur 2013, 4644
- see ruling on 17 December 2013: File Reference VI ZR 211/12 - http://juris.bundesgerichtshof.de/cgi-bin/rechtsprechung/document.py?Gericht=bgh&Art=en&nr=66571&pos=0&anz=1