An Indian-origin German lawmaker used his credit card to pay a Canadian firm for nude photos and videos of children and it led investigators to track him down, according to a media report.
Sebastian Edathy had received from the firm several setsof videos and photos of naked children between October 21, 2005 and June 18, 2010, TV network NDR reported yesterday citing sources close to the current investigation against him.
Even though possession of such videos or photos is not acrime in Germany, prosecutors justified their raids on house and offices of Edathy with the argument that those keeping such materials may also be possessing child pornography relevant for a criminal prosecution, the report said.
44-year-old Edathy's offices as well as his houses in Rehburg, in the state of Lower Saxony and in Berlin were searched by police on Monday.
Current investigations are based on an initial suspicionthat he is in possession of child pornography or attempted toobtain them, according to the report.
The state prosecutor's office in Hannover so far gave noreasons for the raids it had ordered or for opening an investigation against the Social Democrat (SPD) member of parliament, who last Friday unexpectedly laid down his seat in the Bundestag citing poor health.
Edathy sharply criticised the raids on his houses and hisoffices. The raids were "not only excessive but they were alsoin violation of the basic principles of a constitutional state," Edathy was quoted as saying by Der Spiegel.
He also reiterated his position that the allegations against him are baseless and he did nothing which makes him liable to a criminal prosecution.
Meanwhile, justice minister of Lower Saxony Antje Niewisch-Lennartz deplored the way the state prosecutor in Hannover carried out the raids and demanded an explanation how the press received advanced information about the raids.
A local newspaper in Nienburg, near Hannover, had reported about the raids in advance and afterwards published photos taken during the search, the report said.
Edathy's unexpected resignation and his failure to takeup a key position in his party or in the new coalition government the SPD had formed together with chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives after the parliamentary election in September have raised new questions whether he was aware of the impending probe against him.
He kept a low profile after the election even though hehad chaired a highly respected parliamentary inquiry committee, which investigated the failure of security authorities to prevent a string of racially-motivated neo-Nazi murders during the period between 2000 and 2007.