The name of the dead suspect for the Münster attack is “Jens R.”, according to ZDF.

Is it normal for the German government to only release a partial name for a crime as serious as this? (Assuming that the full name hasn’t been provided to the media who decide to publish only a partial name)

  • 3
    Did the government release the partial name? The linked tweet doesn’t seem to state this.
    – unor
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 2:10
  • 1
    We can safely assume that the media know the full name by now, whether from official or unofficial sources.
    – chirlu
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 2:32
  • 4
    Why do you expect them to publish the full name?
    – abukaj
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 14:48
  • 1
    ... and what does the government have to do with this? Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 21:09
  • 2
    @AndrewGrimm: how do you know the police supplies any name (as opposed to the media finding it out but adhering to their press codex)? Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 21:23

1 Answer 1


Yes, this is normal for the German media. The German justice system uses the concept of presumption of innocence. A suspect is just that - a suspect. They are not considered guilty until a court of law has made a guilty verdict. Until then everyone should assume that the person might be innocent, no matter how clear the evidence against them seems to be at first glance. That's why the tweet linked in the question talks about "the alleged perpetrator Jens R."

Germany also has a high standard of personal privacy. It would be unfair to ruin someone's reputation by publicly stigmatizing them as a criminal if that person might in fact be innocent. This also applies to deceased people.

That's why Section 8.1 of the German press codex (the nonbinding but usually followed rules for ethical journalism) recommends to not publish the names of criminals (alleged or not) except for some special situations (for example, when the criminal is already a person of public interest or when the police asks the population for help).

By the way: The official press release of the police of Münster (German) does not even mention a first name.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Philipp
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 11:25
  • (-1) That's not what presumption of innocence is about. As explained in the article you link to, it's about the legal burden of proof and does not entail an obligation for everyone to assume anything until a court finds otherwise. There are certainly cases where that would not be reasonable (consider just one example: Nazi war criminals who died before they could face trial). Presumption of innocence is also an established principle in countries like the US or Ireland and yet the media has a very different attitude there.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 6:07

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