The journalist's appeal was dismissed and a 2013 ruling by the Wil District Court was upheld, the cantonal court announced Tuesday. The new verdict is not yet legally binding.
In May 2011, Blick reported on the arrest of two cab drivers in St. Gallen who were accused of rape. The report was illustrated with photos of the suspects. However, one of the two men pictured was innocent. During his research, the journalist had contact with a private detective. The latter obtained the pictures of the two crime suspects from a police officer. He allegedly told the police officer that he wanted to show the pictures to another possible rape victim.
Innocent in the pillory
By publishing the photos, the tabloid publicly denounced the rapist, but also his innocent brother. The latter defended himself against the publication and demanded damages and satisfaction. This led to a criminal investigation. In 2013, the District Court of Wil convicted the journalist, the private investigator and the police officer of violating official secrets or inciting them to do so. It imposed conditional fines of240 daily fines (detective), 60 daily fines (journalist) and 45 daily fines (police officer). The detective and the policeman accepted the sentences. Both are no longer active in their former professions. The journalist, however, challenged the verdict, so that the St. Gallen Cantonal Court had to deal with the case on Monday.
The Blick employee only partially answered the court's questions. His defense attorney demanded an acquittal. The journalist had neither wanted nor known that the private detective had incited a police officer to violate official secrets. He had merely asked the detective if he knew anything about the case. The prosecutor saw it differently: the journalist had known that the detective - himself a former police officer - had good contacts with the police. The detective had also provided the newspaper with information from police sources in another case. The court followed the prosecutor's request and dismissed the appeal. It ordered the journalist to pay 4500 francs in procedural costs.
Damages and satisfaction
The appeal of the man who was wrongly denounced with a picture in Blick was also rejected. He demanded 10,000 francs in damages and 20,000 francs in satisfaction from the journalist. His lawyer spoke of an "extremely blatant" violation of personality. Now the man must assert his claim in civil court. (SDA)