Sanctuary for asylum seekers in the St. Pauli church in Hamburg, Germany, 2013 Photo: picture alliance/A. Heimken
Sanctuary for asylum seekers in the St. Pauli church in Hamburg, Germany, 2013 Photo: picture alliance/A. Heimken

A German court has ruled that a monk's action in a case of church asylum was protected by the freedom of faith and conscience laid out in the German constitution. The monk in Bavaria had provided refuge to a man born in the Gaza Strip.

The district court in Kitzingen in the German state of Bavaria ruled on Monday (April 26) that while the Benedictine monk "unlawfully" committed assistance to illegal stay, the freedom of faith, conscience and creed ("Glaubens- und Gewissensfreiheit"), guaranteed by Germany's constitution, was more important.

According to the judges, the monk's claim to be acting in the name of this freedom, was credible. Therefore, it "rules out punishment in this singular case," the court said. The public prosecutor had demanded a monetary fine of €2,400, which the court did not follow. The ruling isn't legally binding yet.

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The Benedictine abbey, located near the city of Würzburg, has supported refugees for years. Last August, the 49-year-old monk had taken in a rejected asylum seeker who was born in the Gaza Strip. A few months prior, the 25-year-old had entered the European Union via Rumania, where he was to be deported back to in accordance with the so-called Dublin Regulation.

According to the court, the Palestinian is currently not staying in the abbey but is living in an asylum accommodation and is going through a regular asylum process.

With dpa, AFP

 

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