Today I stood my second injunction trial (previous here), and once again, the evidence was irrelevant. Today’s trial of Philipp Jungebluth against myself in the Berlin regional court was set for 30 minutes and this is also how long it took. The reason: the judge (and two co-judges) already made up their decision to uphold Jungebluth’s injunction against me (see story here and here), regardless of all evidence from my side about this doctor’s past. They were perfectly free to do so, because it was a speed trial, where (in theory) I was supposed to get my chance to finally defend myself after the very same judge passed that injunction without my prior knowledge or involvement, based on the claims submitted by Jungebluth. Such is the German law on press freedom, take it or leave the country. Also now, I didn’t get to say much, while Jungebluth and his lawyer were welcomed to explain their case to the court once again. My lawyer and I hardly got a chance to squeeze a word in.
As I was educated by the court, it does not matter what else the former thorax surgery apprentice Jungebluth was responsible for: several dead patients after he and his master Paolo Macchiarini fitted them with plastic tracheas without any ethics approvals, the proven research misconduct, investigations of Jungebluth’s MD dissertation, his false pretence to a PhD degree, even the likely indictment for manslaughter for Macchiarini and his partners. None of this was in fact disputed by Jungebluth and his lawyer, the latter even declared to the court roughly this:
“It cannot be: once a criminal than always a criminal”.
Jungebluth’s “criminal” past (as his lawyer himself put it) is therefore behind him, the doctor is reformed and keen to operate again. Since this trachea transplants are a thing of the past, just like the dead patients, they are irrelevant, and the legally guilty party is I, due to my negative reporting. The only valid point for this court is that Jungebluth wants to continue working in Germany as a doctor, which is why any insinuation that he left his previous job with the Thorax Clinic of the University of Heidelberg on anything but his own accord or in any way related to those previous trachea transplant scandals is to be seen as libel, punished with utmost severity of the German law.
The alleged evidence of Jungebluth’s stardom and respectability among doctors, which his lawyer originally put forward as the rationale to get the injunction passed, was completely forgotten. No talk anymore about his Lancet paper (Jungebluth et al, 2011) describing his dead patient Andemariam Beyene, who suffocated on the plastic trachea which he and Macchiarini implanted. No word of that 2013 New York Times article celebrating Jungebluth as saviour of the little Hannah Warren, who however died soon after she received the plastic trachea from Jungebluth and his master. No mention anymore of his long list of publications, given the misconduct findings, retractions and more to come. Even Jungebluth’s alleged popularity in scientific circles, previously evidenced to the court with nothing else but a spam email inviting to a predatory conference, was not an issue. The “evidence”, on which Jungebluth obtained that injunction against me in the first place, collapsed and became forgotten. But the injunction remains nevertheless.
It also does not matter that Jungebluth does not dispute that he was “kicked out” by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, just like the hair-raising reasons for that lost assistant professorship in Sweden are not being disputed anymore. Jungebluth instead humbly declared to the court that his career in Germany suffers because people keep asking him what happened to his job as scientist and thorax surgeon in training in Heidelberg, after reading the headline of my article. Of course, why would anyone ask him about his dead patients or research misconduct, or all the other things he did. Those are indeed utterly irrelevant to his past work as surgeon in regenerative medicine. The court sure did not wish to hear about those.
When I first published my article, I did quote the official explanation from the Heidelberg Thorax Clinic of Jungebluth leaving utterly on his own accord, and the relevant follow-up article was hyperlinked to that one. Indeed, the court today even seemed prepared to consider this to reduce my punishment, while still seeing me guilty of libel. This is apparently why I was requested by court to travel 1100km both ways: to plead for mercy. The court seemed convinced that Jungebluth’s right to lead an undisturbed career as doctor in Germany must not be affected by my negative-sounding reporting on why he left research and his thorax surgery training in Heidelberg. His current and future patients must not lose the opportunity to be operated by Dr. Jungebluth because of this.
Before and after the trial I shook Jungebluth’s hand, the hand which helped implant lethal plastic tracheas into Beyene (dead), Chris Lyles (dead), Yesim Cetir (dead), Yulia Tuulik (dead), Alexandr Zozulya (dead) and the 2 year old Hannah Warren (dead), as well as the pig-lab-made cadaveric trachea of Claudia Castillo (alive, but mutilated). Those are the trachea transplant patients we do know for sure Jungebluth was directly involved with. And in the one of the only two Macchiarini-related court trial in Germany, I was found guilty today. The Würzburg court decision on the injunction by Heike and Thorsten Walles is supposed to be announced today as well. Also there, the injunction was passed under false claims (and apparently even under perjury) from the side of Walles, also there my evidence was disregarded, and also there it is unlikely to be revoked by same judge who passed it.
The Berlin court will now establish the degree and the punishment for my guilt. The decision, just as for the Walles case, will be announced soon, and I will update this article.
I will of course appeal in a higher court instance. That will be again very expensive, but I think the crippling and growing costs of my legal defence are exactly the only reason why I am being sued, both by Walles and, right after them, by Jungebluth. To break me financially, and to end my reporting. Doctors in Germany are not only wealthy, they are also apparently untouchable. We have hardly any medical scandals here, now you know why.
Update 29.04.2017. Last Monday, I received the court decision from Berlin. I was sentenced to pay a fine of €1000, or go to prison for two days (so in the worst case, I will be sent to prison for my reporting, and not Jungebluth, who didn’t not even deny in court to have been personally involved in the deaths of at least 7 Macchiarini-patients, among other things).
On the plus side, another 1/3 of the injunction were lifted, so only 1/3 remains. Jungebluth and his lawyer already lodged a protest against the court decision. My lawyer and I will be appealing the verdict and protest against the fine.
The court argued, that there was absolutely no basis to assume Jungebluth might have abandoned his entire scientific career and his training as thoracic surgeon with the University Clinic Heidelberg in any other way as utterly of his own accord. It surely could have nothing to do with his past with Macchiarini, especially if he had indeed been a Germany-wide renowned scientist until very recently. Instead, the court recognises the danger to Jungebluth’s personal rights and his new career in medicine if my negative reporting about him is available to public. Hence also the fine of €1000 or two days prison.
The Walles court decision in Würzburg is available as update here.