ARCHIV - 20.12.2021, Berlin: Patricia Schlesinger, Intendantin des Rundfunks Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb) und ARD-Vorsitzende, aufgenommen bei einem Interview mit der Deutschen Presse-Agentur. (zu dpa "RBB-Intendantin verspricht ihren Mitarbeitern Transparenz") Foto: Britta Pedersen/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

There will be no investigations against director Patricia Schlesinger, the director of Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg. The Berlin public prosecutor’s office informed the Tagesspiegel on Friday in response to a corresponding request. “Investigations were not started and the procedure according to § 170 paragraph 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was discontinued because the necessary initial suspicion was denied,” the statement said.

The criminal complaint by the AfD parliamentary group in the Brandenburg state parliament against Patricia Schlesinger, Wolf-Dieter Wolf and Gerhard Spöhrl has now been recorded in the local register of proceedings. This is likely to be the case with the report made directly to the Berlin public prosecutor’s office on July 19, 2022, parallel to the report made to the Neuruppin public prosecutor’s office, according to the Berlin side.

RBB director Patricia Schlesinger, her husband Gerhard Spörl and the chairman of the board of directors, Wolf-Dieter Wolf, who has since left office, have been criticized for several weeks. The allegations relate to consulting contracts in connection with the digital media company, a consulting contract for Messe Berlin and allegedly incorrectly billed dinners in the director’s private rooms. Patricia Schlesinger has also been chairwoman of ARD since the beginning of the year.

Internal auditing and the transmitter’s compliance officer deal with the processes at RBB. In addition, the law firm Lutz Abel was commissioned to investigate the processes independently and comprehensively.

The AfD parliamentary group in the Brandenburg state parliament initiated a special session of the committee dealing with media issues, to which Patricia Schlesinger and Wolf-Dieter Wolf as well as Friederike von Kirchbach, chairwoman of the broadcasting council, were invited. However, none of the three followed the request.

In the meantime, Patricia Schlesinger has also been asked to give up her position. However, she rejected this request in an interview with the Tagesspiegel. The decision of the Berlin public prosecutor’s office not to investigate them should strengthen the RBB director’s position.

According to the considerations on which the decision is based, the public prosecutor’s office is only entitled to start investigations if there are sufficient factual indications that a criminal offense has been committed. This is intended to prevent a quasi-arbitrary criminal prosecution based on rumours, assumptions and allegations that are not further documented. Conversely, the public prosecutor’s office is also obliged to initiate preliminary proceedings if there are such sufficient factual indications.

So far, however, the Berlin public prosecutor’s office has not received sufficient factual evidence on the subject in question. The advertisements by the AfD parliamentary group in the Brandenburg state parliament, in turn, were essentially limited to the statement that there was press coverage that concerned consultancy contracts, the assumption of expense accounts, private dinners and favors on a mutual basis with the rbb. The notification letter did not contain any further specification, which would be suitable to underpin statutory elements of the offense by naming facts.

The ads could therefore only be seen as a suggestion to investigate an initial suspicion – which is neither permissible nor the task of the public prosecutor’s office or meets the minimum requirements for the presentation of a verifiable fact, explained senior public prosecutor Sebastian Büchner.

The public prosecutor’s office also emphasized that it was not their job to actively evaluate the media to determine whether criminal circumstances were being described there on a sufficient factual basis. This would be a legally impermissible search for an initial suspicion – legally impermissible because the investigation of the facts or investigation may only be started when the initial suspicion already exists.