Comparative Law, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Evidence, Murder, Police and Prosecutors, Self-Promotion, Soering, True Crime

Progress: ProSieben Scrubs Misleading Video About Söring Case

ProSieben, the German private TV channel, has just removed all links to its recent episode of the “Galileo” TV show about Jens Söring. It used to be on YouTube for example, but the link has been removed. The video consisted of a profile of Söring in his new Hamburg apartment, which was obviously perfectly fine — but it also contained falsehoods drawn from Söring’s point of view and — amazingly — definitively proclaimed that Söring was “innocent” of the Haysom murders. That claim was even part of the video’s title!

“33 Years Innocent in Prison”

A few days ago I posted a short preliminary complaint (in German) which I sent to ProSieben. I then followed up with an English-language analysis of the falsehoods in the clip.

The filmmakers went way out on a limb, creating “dramatized” scenes of Elizabeth Haysom returning to the Washington Marriott hotel and confessing to Jens Söring that she had killed her parents. Which never happened. There was even a scene in which Elizabeth Haysom reviewed a written “deal” with the Bedford County District Attorney’s office in return for her testimony. This, of course, also never happened.

The first dramatization was, of course, a crude slander against Elizabeth Haysom. The second dramatization was an allegation of misconduct and possibly even crime against Jim Updike, the prosecutor of Jens Söring and Elizabeth Haysom. Updike stated in court that there was no deal for Elizabeth’s testimony — so the dramatized scene effectively accused him of committing perjury in court. I promised ProSieben I would send an authorized translation of this scene and the commentary to Updike, who is now a respected Virginia judge.

At least one viewer sent a detailed complaint not only to ProSieben but also to the Bavarian media oversight board. He kindly cc’ed me on these complaints, which were well-formulated. I submitted my own detailed complaint not only to ProSieben but also to the German criminal defense lawyer André Miegel, who stated that Söring confessed because he thought he had diplomatic immunity (for which there is zero evidence) and that he was convicted solely on the basis of the bloody sockprint (which is false).

This is one of the first times a German media outlet has responded appropriately to these complaints by removing the video entirely. ProSieben has obviously recognized that they waded into a subject which was way out of their depth, naively repeating claims made by Jens Söring and his supporters which were not only false but also very likely defamatory.

The point of my complaints, as I’ve always made clear, is not to silence Jens Söring or his supporters. The purpose is to correct falsehoods and protect the reputation of innocent people (or people, like Elizabeth Haysom, who do not deserve to be attacked based on no evidence).

From my perspective, ProSieben can restore the video anytime they want, as long as they edit out the false claims. If they put a revised video online which simply explores Söring’s new life in Germany and his time in prison, I won’t have an objection (although many viewers may still be angry that this man is receiving so much attention because he murdered two people). But if they put the video back up with the falsehoods about his case still in it, I won’t give up, and neither will the other viewers who have complained.

In any case, I applaud ProSieben for taking this step. Of course, a 5-minute Google search could have revealed the problems with this piece long before it was broadcast. But as they say, better late than never.

Slowly but surely, the truth is prevailing.

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