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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Access to Kohl Stasi files curbed
Stasi files
The Stasi are said to have compiled thousands of pages on Mr Kohl
A German court has ruled that some of the files compiled by the East German secret police on ex-chancellor Helmut Kohl can be made public.

The federal court in Leipzig said files that do not concern Mr Kohl's private life can be made public - but with strict rules governing their use.

As West German chancellor, Mr Kohl was spied on by the Stasi in the 1980s.

The decision comes after a four-year legal battle, in which Mr Kohl has fought to keep the files secret.

The BBC's Ray Furlong in Berlin says this is a partial victory for Mr Kohl, who was appealing against an earlier verdict in September 2003, under which all of his files could be released.

But Mr Kohl is still able to contest this decision and take his legal battle to Germany's highest court if he chooses, our correspondent adds.

Long legal battle

The case had been brought by Marianne Birthler, who heads the agency overseeing the secret police archives of the former communist regime in East Germany.

Researchers have been keen to see Mr Kohl's secret police records, which they hope could shed light on a financing scandal that has tainted him and his party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Helmut Kohl (2000 picture)
Mr Kohl has fought the release of the files for four years

Mr Kohl claims the files on him violate his right to privacy and were bound to be full of false information.

The files were "manipulated and some information was simply invented," his lawyer told the hearing.

The federal court ruled that the files could be released to media "only with the consent of the person affected," except in cases where the information contained is publicly available, the Associated Press reported.

Files containing personal information can be released only for research purposes, on condition "that they not fall into the wrong hands or be published".

The decision means that "the Stasi files on former Chancellor Helmut Kohl must remain largely sealed in future," the agency reported the court as saying.


SEE ALSO:
Court lifts ban on Kohl files
17 Sep 03  |  Europe
Kohl wins Stasi files battle
08 Mar 02  |  Europe
Timeline: Germany
23 May 04  |  Country profiles



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