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News from Germany...

Jewish council to decide VP's fate

23 June 2003

Michel FriedmannMUNICH - The Central Council of Jews in Germany is to decide in mid-July about the future of its vice president, Michel Friedman, amid a politically sensitive scandal over suspicions that he had taken cocaine, the weekly magazine Focus reported Monday.

The magazine cited leading figures in the Jewish community as saying that a decision would be needed considering Friedman's prominent position.

Besides being vice president of the German Jewish group, the 47- year-old politician and talkshow host is also president of the European Jewish Congress.

Salomon Korn, head of the Jewish community of Frankfurt, said discussion is now going on about whether Friedman "is a suitable representative of the Jewish community in Germany".

Korn also said there was "no Jewish Nibelungen loyalty" in the matter. Given Friedman's prominent position in the Jewish groups, "higher standards apply than for a television moderator".

Andreas Nachama, head of the Jewish community of Berlin, said he was still having a hard time absorbing the scandal surrounding Friedman. He said he still considered it "unimaginable and unreal, even though I know that it is true". The allegations had not "simply fallen from the sky", Nachama told the magazine.

Friedman's home and office were raided in early June by federal agents in connection with an investigation of a Ukrainian human smuggling ring in Frankfurt, with the raid turning up three empty packets in which traces of cocaine were found.

In the meantime, an analysis of Friedman's hair has been made to determine whether he took the drug, but the Berlin Justice Ministry, after a complaint lodged by his attorney, has issued a news blackout on any further disclosures in the affair.

Meanwhile the German government's human rights expert, Greens politician Claudia Roth, cautioned against a rush to judgement over Friedman, and spoke of "hypocrisy" in the debate over the scandal.

"I have the feeling that many are using the allegations in order to settle accounts with Jewry," Roth told the mass-circulation Bild newspaper on Saturday. "They want to put the Jews along with Friedman in the prosecution dock. This must not happen."

According to the Berlin newspaper Berliner Zeitung, Friedman might not be alone among prominent persons in Germany whose names are known to the federal investigators in connection with the investigation of the Ukrainian ring.

The paper cited unidentified agents as saying that the investigations had turned up the names of a top-ranking member of a major political party, as well as well-known media and sports personalities as having been provided with prostitutes by the Ukrainians.



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Picture: Michel Friedmann speaks often at schools, lecturing pupils on right and wrong.
© Focal Point 2002 [F] e-mail: Irving write to David Irving