German ex-leader Kohl to sue ghostwriter for 5 mn euros

2nd March 2016, Comments 0 comments

German ex-chancellor Helmut Kohl plans to sue his former ghostwriter on Thursday for at least five million euros ($5.4 million) for publishing an unauthorised biography.

Kohl, 85, dubbed the "Father of German Reunification", served for 16 years, including in the final years of the Cold War and during the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.

In 2001-02, he taped more than 630 hours of interviews with journalist Heribert Schwan for a multi-volume memoir project that was scrapped part-way through.

Over a decade later, Schwan, 71, used the material to co-author the biography "Legacy: the Kohl Protocols", published in late 2014 -- infuriating Kohl, who last year won a court case banning further print runs.

The book, co-written with Tilman Jens, quoted Kohl as playing down the importance of pro-democracy protesters in the fall of the Berlin Wall and belittling the historic role of former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

In one personal swipe, the elder statesman was quoted as saying about his former protegee Angela Merkel that she "couldn't eat properly with knife and fork" when she first entered politics.

Kohl's legal complaint, according to the Bild newspaper, demands what would be record damages in Germany for breaching his trust and sullying his reputation with the book, which sold more than 200,000 copies.

The lawyers charge that the writers' attempt "to reduce and at times discredit Helmut Kohl and his role in history with a 'valet's view through the keyhole' is the height of bad taste, unscrupulousness and indecency," according to Bild.

"There is no comparable case in which a veteran statesman ... has, after leaving office, been deceived and, through breach of law and of trust, been publicly embarrassed, exposed and ridiculed to such an extent."

In the case to be heard in Cologne from Thursday, Kohl will also demand Schwan give back copies of the tapes, a court spokeswoman told AFP, confirming the damages demand was for at least five million euros.

Kohl left active politics in 2002. Since a fall in 2008, he has suffered from impaired speech and uses a wheelchair.

© 2016 AFP

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