Criminal charges filed in Deutsche Bahn employee spying case

The new management of German national railway Deutsche Bahn has submitted criminal charges to the public prosecutor’s office over a scandal involving internal company spying, daily Frankfurter Rundschau reported on Wednesday.

Criminal charges filed in Deutsche Bahn employee spying case
Photo: DPA

“A counsellor under contract with the new Deutsche Bahn leadership submitted the criminal charges against unnamed suspects and presented evidence,” a spokesperson for the public prosecutor’s office told the paper.

The case allegedly details criminal surveillance within Deutsche Bahn and there are several individuals who have accused the company of violating data protection laws, the spokesperson said. Investigations are still ongoing, he added.

“Crimes undoubtedly took place,” former German interior minister Gerhart Baum, who has been involved in the investigation, told the paper.

In February, the railway operator confirmed that in 2005 it had scoured the personal data of 173,000 workers for signs of dubious dealings with suppliers. The company also acknowledged in March following reports in the media that similar operations had taken place in 2002-2003.

The scandal then grew to include not just surveillance of employees, but also journalists and scientists who were particularly critical of Germany’s state-owned national rail operator.

In April, the German government nominated Rüdiger Grube to head the company after former boss Harmut Mehdorn resigned amid heavy criticism.

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Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

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In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

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