Pubdate: Thu, 28 Mar 2002
Source: Straits Times (Singapore)
Copyright: 2002 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.
Author: Bjorn Gabriel


I refer to Ms Ryhan Beister's letter, 'Reports on German drug case 
disgusting' (ST, March 26).

In her letter, Ms Beister describes the German media as self-righteous and 
haughty, of being deliberately sensational and dramatic in their 
Singapore-bashing style of reporting.

She paints a very polemical picture of the 'disgusting' reports on the 
Julia Bohl case, by referring to German tabloids, such as Bild and Express, 
which are not highly regarded for their standards of journalism, and 
television broadcasts.

One should be aware that serious and reputable media such as Sueddeutsche 
Allgemeine Zeitung, FAZ and weekly current-affairs magazines such as Der 
Spiegel have reported this case with a high level of objectivity and fairness.

 From my perspective, the current debate in Germany goes beyond the issue 
of appropriate punishment in the case of Bohl. Rather, it touches on the 
fundamental question of the moral and ethical legitimacy of capital punishment.

Furthermore, Ms Beister's call for 'imposing sanctions on such reporters' 
undermines the freedom of expression which every society which considers 
itself to be democratic has to maintain.

Yes, Bohl was caught in possession of illegal substances. They may have 
been used for financial gain through other people's addiction and the 
possession would thus be morally unacceptable.

Yes, she decided to live in a foreign country. She therefore has to respect 
the local laws and expect a penalty if she breaks them.

But wouldn't it be more humane and civilised to give a misled 23-year-old 
woman a second chance?

Bjorn Gabriel
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MAP posted-by: Beth