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.
If you would like to support my court litigation financially, donation amount doesn’t matter, please go to my Patreon site or contact me.
This is absurd — by this standard, how does any reporting get done at all in Germany? Does one really have a “right to vanish” after affecting this many lives?
Actually, no: you have the right to continue as surgeon in Germany, because what happened in Sweden and in Russia (and Spain, and Italy) does not count.
The German injunction law is a catastrophe which allows you to lie and cheat, once the injunction you dishonestly obtained is passed, it is a binding legal verdict, and you can send the other party to jail for breaking it, while trusting that judges do not like overruling themselves. But noone seems to mind, because if you are truly innocent and unjustly sentenced, you sure will have enough money to defend yourself in the next court instance, won’t you? And if you don’t have the money, why did you open your mouth then in the first place? This is why if you google Macchiarini in German, you will find almost exclusively only adulating media articles about how he saved lives with his trachea transplants.
What type of country is Germany? Where are the basic human rights?
If it is that easy to impose injuction, may be you need to ask German courts to issue injunction on Jungebluth and Walles that they accused you falsely of providing false information. And if they continue to claim that your information is false, they will go to prison for 6 months. It will be you in this case who provide all information to court which will be done in their absence and they will need to travel 1100 km to defend etc..
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The judge seems to have made this a technical case, solely concentrating on your statement that Jungebluth “lost his job”. Your defense should have been equally technical. Loosing a job in science does not necessarily mean being fired, and Jungebluth himself declared troubles with new funding. In cases of public interest (which this is), and of public figures (which Jungebluth is), preliminary injunctions should be a last resort measure (see EU rulings), and a possible “insinuation” (that he got fired, which you never actually stated) based on logical arguments can hardly fulfill the criteria for allowing such “last resort” measure.
The reason for this last resort character is that otherwise the rich can block reporting by the poor, which is what you see (attempted to be) happening in this case. One mistake in an otherwise correct article, and pay up. Law in essence is reasonable most of the time, but you have to find that reasonable part that is relevant for your case (“lost his job”, public interest), and not waste time on issues in which you and the judge don’t disagree.
I am really surprised by German law and lack of basic human rights. Would it be possible to try this case at a higher level, EU or UN?
We should start a crowdfunding for support in cases like this one!
Yes, someone should write a letter to UN and another one to EU right now in the name of Leonid and of his readers. Leonid would you like me to do it?
This is totally weird, in reality a very limited freedom of speech if you don’t have the money and time.
Who will take the task of starting crowdfounding? I will be happy to contribute.
Thanks Jonas, this is my crowdfunding site on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=3680033
To avoid their large fees, you and other readers can also wire to my bank account. Just contact me. Donors will be refunded after I win in court.
Someone should ask the judge if we all are libel for writing bad reviews on the internet. Can McDonalds sue me for writing that their french fries were cold?
German law is archaic in many different areas. This is compounded by an unwritten caste society where judges and doctors from the same caste protect each other from the wretched poor and underclassed. Germany would rather see patients suffer and die than have upper class people “lose face” online. That is the law and it will not change any time soon.
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luckily, Germany is part of EU, and there is the overarching European Court for Human Rights. It can overturn any decision by national courts inside EU. However, before the EU court can be invoked, national courts must issue a final verdict. And we are just about to start here to appeal.
I would like to make a plea to all readers to contribute to LS court costs.
See details above.
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It’s not that surprising. Germany has a history of violation against human-rights. Germany has also recently proven with the VW scandal that it has a big problem with instutional cheating.
Please summon witnesses.
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