Gaffer recordings of an accident justify house search

The Bonn Regional Court has ruled that a judicial order to search a house when recording a gaffer video showing a helpless, seriously injured person in a traffic accident is lawful.

Video recordings of a rescue operation in a serious traffic accident inadmissible

The complainant filmed a seriously injured person in a traffic accident. The video contains footage of the fire brigade rescuing the seriously injured man who was trapped in his car. Although the complainant pixelated the face of the seriously injured man, he could be recognised despite the pixelated face. He then posted the video on the internet.

Gaffer videos are a criminal offence

The Bonn Local Court investigated the complainant and ordered a search of his house. There was a concrete suspicion that the complainant had recorded the criminal film footage of the traffic accident. The filming of a seriously injured, helpless person had been made and distributed online. This was a criminal offence under section 201a, paragraph 1, no. 2, no. 4 of the Criminal Code.

In his complaint to the Bonn Local Court of 17 May 2021, the complainant sought a declaration that the house search ordered by the Bonn Local Court on 28 April 2021 had been unlawful. The Bonn Local Court rejected the complaint and submitted its decision to the Bonn Regional Court for review.

House search is justified for gaffer videos

The Regional Court Bonn confirmed the decision of the Local Court. The order to search the house by the Bonn Local Court had been lawfully ordered pursuant to section 102 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The gaffer videos were evidence. A necessary concrete suspicion that the complainant had taken criminal videos of the traffic accident was to be assumed beyond doubt. The filming had violated the most personal sphere of life of the seriously injured man. The helplessness of the seriously injured man had been openly displayed and disseminated on the internet. A criminal offence under § 201a of the Criminal Code had therefore been committed.

Freedom of the press does not justify gaffer videos

The filming of the complainant was not justified against the background of freedom of the press. The complainant was already not a representative of the press. He could therefore not invoke freedom of the press. The search of the flat was also proportionate. It was true that searches of living quarters were serious encroachments on the personal rights of the person concerned. But particularly against the background of the helplessness of the seriously injured person and the complainant's showmanship, the complainant's rights were less serious. In particular, the order to search the house had also been appropriate and necessary to clarify the complainant's criminal conduct.

The decision is final.

Source: Bonn Regional Court, order of 13.07.2021, 50 Qs-410 Js 78/21-18/21

GoldbergUllrich Lawyers 2021

Attorney at Law Christopher Pillat, LL.M. (Intellectual Property Law)