Just before the end of the year 2016, I received per mail an official letter from the Bavarian Regional Court in Würzburg, where I was found guilty of lies and libel in a trial I was not invited to. Under the threat of a prison sentence of 6 months (since I could never pay even a fraction of the fine of €250,000) I was ordered by the judge to remove a short paragraph from this article which described the same tracheal transplants which the Würzburg University professors Heike and Thorsten Walles were proudly promoting through all available media only a couple of years ago. Now, when the trachea transplant scandal around their former collaborator Paolo Macchiarini exploded, the mere reference to their earlier common publications amounts to a crime of libel in the German state of Bavaria. I was also sentenced to pay the court costs, though I only learned about this Kafkaesque “Prozeß” once a final decision against me was delivered by mail. Luckily, I still have the right to appeal, which I will do once I recruit a suitable legal counsel. If you wish to help in any way, please get in touch.
Thus, my constitutional right to free speech has been denied to me by a Bavarian judge named Pösch who decided to rely on the eminence of two local professors and their elite lawyer instead of even considering the straightforward evidence under his very nose. The main reason for this swift in absentia court action against me: the Walleses are currently applying for professorships elsewhere. Apparently, their prospective academic employers must under no circumstances find out about the three tracheal transplants which these two researchers performed: Thorsten Walles as surgeon and Heike Walles as the maker of the pig-intestine-based windpipes. Normally, I would not mind serving 6 months in a German prison for stating mere facts which even the Walles couple never denied (they and their lawyer convinced the judge by slandering myself and twisting the meaning of my texts in the most disreputable way), but I have a family and cannot afford taking up this exciting offer of a half-a-year-vacation in a Bavarian prison. But if I should be made to serve time for daring to repeat published facts, I will be probably the first one in the Federal Republic of Germany to do so. In Bavaria, you can obviously quote from all possible books, but not from a 2013 book about a tracheal transplant.
The court decision is available below in my translation, the near-full court file is available here [not available after court settlemtn, LS]. The previous lawyer’s letter from December 5th, which instructed me to pay €3000 and submit myself in writing to the will of the Walleses, is available here [not available after court settlemtn, LS]. For details of the tracheal transplants, please read this article.
The opponent is by way of an interim injunction with a penalty of up to two hundred and fifty thousand Euro or a prison term of up to six months – also when the administrative fee cannot be paid – for any infringement
to assert or to spread:
[text removed after court settlement -LS]
- The applicant must bear the costs of the appeal.
- The amount in dispute shall be € 25,000.00.
On the basis of the facts, reference is made to the legal motion dated 19.12.2016 and the documents submitted with it.
In particular, the applicants have also made sufficient credentials by submitting affidavits (§ 294 ZPO) that the applicant is on the website https://forbetterscience.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/professor-macchiarini-because-medical-university-of-hannover-wants-it-so/ has made the objected (false) statements.
The disputable claims are capable of denigrating the claimants and showing towards them contempt. The right to the decision is thus derived from §§ 1004 para. 1 BGB, 823 para. 2 BGB i.V.m. §§ 186, 187 StGB i.V.m. Article 2 (1), Art. 1 (1) Constitution.
The reason for the dispute arises from the fact that such assertions can cause enormous damage on the internet solely through accessibility, and, moreover, the applicant has made 2) sufficiently credible to currently take part in two application procedures for appointment as professors to another university.
The interim injunction was therefore to be adopted as requested.
The Walles couple and their lawyer drove a hard strategy to discredit my person before the judge. Not being there or even aware, I was unable to prove that I am not a despicable lying scoundrel as which I was presented. First of all, my accusers presented it to the court as a fully established fact that I would hide my identity and not offer an “about me” (in German “Impressum”) information on my site. In reality, that page exists since my site does, it links to my academic CV, is in fact clearly visible and is used by my readers to contact me regularly. If the judge Pösch would have bothered to go online to check, he would have seen that page immediately.
The Walleses and their lawyer accused me of using “third-source information” only. In fact, in my main follow-up article (which they even supplemented to the judge as evidence against me) I mostly quoted from official institutional press releases, Thorsten Walles’ own interviews and a PhD thesis his wife Heike Walles supervised. Another source is a Walles-extolling book by a German journalist, a book which I am accused not to have interpreted “properly”as instructed by the lawyer. The relevant book chapter was also supplemented to the court, yet obviously the judge decided not to read it, but to fully trust the lawyer’s interpretation instead. Noteworthy, the Walleses never deny that their last patient (an Indian immigrant who originally arrived to Germany illegally and eventually acquired a legal status) received a tracheostomy (which in turn clearly indicated a failure of the graft). The book’s author also confirmed to me in his email that this tracheostomy was indeed re-opened shortly after the tracheal transplant.
The same book clearly narrated that the previous two patients were transplanted with an “artificial” trachea and died soon after. I contacted the University of Würzburg with a Freedom of Information inquiry on October 24th, with a brief catalogue of questions including the request to explain what I understood to be “plastic” tracheas. My inquiry went unanswered for two weeks, thus I included a first version of the paragraph in a Macchiarini article from November 7th 2016, which now brought the wrath of Bavarian justice upon me. The Walleses also admit in their letter to court to have been informed about my inquiry to their University from the beginning, but neither they nor University of Würzburg chose to explain to me these previous trachea transplant operations. In fact, on November 18th, the university’s spokesperson announced to me to refuse any of the requested information about the three tracheal transplants. On November 29th, she reiterated this position, while the legal action against me was being finalised. Also the other academic employer of Heike Walles, the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart, branch of the Fraunhofer Society, categorically refused to share any information about the tracheal transplants, in the email from December 5th 2016 and afterwards. Importantly, neither of these public academic research institutions ever denied my supposition that there were indeed two plastic trachea transplants.
Back then I wondered why, but now I understand: they apparently wanted to make their professors’ court case against me stronger. The University of Würzburg has therefore decided to silently support a court action against a curious blogger instead of answering simple questions. This is evident by the fact that the Walleses were apparently encouraged to use their official work affiliations with the University Clinic Würzburg, both in the lawyer’s letter from December 5th as well as in the court decision from December 27th, despite my unanswered protest note to the legal department of the Würzburg University. Also, the University expressed their support by bluntly refusing to follow up on my complaint about their professors behaviour.The University of Würzburg and possibly also the Fraunhofer Society were obviously revelling in the pleasure of watching an annoying blogger squashed by their two professors of regenerative medicine, and to have these three tracheal transplants (which no-one seems to be proud of these days) buried forever. It does sound to be a perverse attitude to accept, but there are hardly any other reasonable explanations.
Only after my own prolonged internet search prompted by the lawyer’s letter from December 5th 2016 (my reply to it here) was I able to reconstruct that all tracheal transplants were made from pig intestine, as described in my follow-up article from December 10th 2016. I also changed the text of the previous article, but even that is to be punished with 6 months of prison. Obviously, there is simply no “correct” version of these trachea transplant events, except total silence.
Are pig-intestine-made tracheas really that much safer and better than plastic ones? A clinical trial with 15 patients, for which the Walleses received funding from the German Ministry for Education and Research, never took place. The method hasn’t been applied since, not by Walleses or anyone else. The University of Würzburg and the Fraunhofer Society even refused to connect or dis-connect the last two tracheal transplants to their own recent matching publications, where these patients’ antecedent deaths went unmentioned (Mertsching et al 2009 and Steinke et al, 2015). In any case, it is mind-boggling how any court could have deemed as libel a mere supposition of plastic material for a trachea transplant. Until 2014, the European Union was actually funding a huge clinical trial based on plastic windpipes, and even in 2015, the University Clinic Heidelberg was apparently developing 3D-printed plastic tracheas!
Finally, the insinuation of the Walleses and their lawyer that I would illegally carry a fake doctorate, surely helped them to sufficiently convince the judge of my general shiftiness and despicability so he did not bother reading what such a person actually wrote in his foreign-language blog.
Beware of German universities, their professors and the German courts. Now you know why research and medicine scandals are so rare in German media.
If you wish to help my case, please contact me here, through this “About me and contact” page, which according to the Bavarian state court decision has never existed.