ARCHIV - 31.07.2009, Hessen, Bad Hersfeld: Der Regisseur Dieter Wedel. Wedel ist tot. Das teilte das Landgericht München I am 20.07.2022 mit, dort war ein Strafverfahren gegen Wedel anhängig. Demnach starb Wedel am 13. Juli 2022 in Hamburg. Foto: BREUEL-BILD/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Dieter Wedel’s criminal case ended with the director’s death. The formal conclusion of a bulky procedure, which took place only to a small extent in the judiciary. Wedel was the German model suspect

It is remarkable that no one expected this ending. When “Zeit-Magazin” published the allegations against the television man in 2018, it was assumed that the most serious allegation – rape – like all the others, was statute-barred. A mistake. Because the legislature had changed the statute of limitations for certain serious sexual offenses in the course of abuse scandals, the judiciary came into play.

An ambivalent situation for Wedel, who always maintained his innocence; on the one hand there was the threat of punishment, on the other hand there was the opportunity to counter at least this worst accusation in a procedure outside the media tribunal. The competent public prosecutor’s office in Munich did something that the judiciary is particularly good at. She took her time. Her March 2021 press release announcing the indictment reads like a letter of apology. The alleged act was so long ago that numerous other findings had led to ever new investigation steps, witnesses abroad had to be questioned and so on. That is not convincing, nor is the long examination by the court to admit the charges to the main hearing.

It is essentially a constellation of “statement against statement”, for which statements by third parties can only play a marginal role. Such things are usually investigated in public hearings, which is why it would have been a surprise if the district court had rejected them.

Nothing against thorough investigations. But it’s no secret that celebrities (or politicians) are either not investigated at all, because the investigations are carried out so thoroughly that there is nothing left of the suspicion, or if investigations do have to be carried out, they are investigated in such a way that investigators do not risk accusations that they have not investigated thoroughly.

The results of such constraints and paradoxes can be seen in the Wedel case. In addition, the judiciary did not hurry because the victim-witnesses preferred to turn to the media instead of to them; one must have had the feeling in Munich that the actual proceedings were over. It wasn’t very fair. The legal presumption of innocence in favor of Wedel had already come under pressure during his lifetime. With his death, she has finally become worthless.