Coca leaves in class : teachers acquitted

Applause for an acquittal: Two teachers will not be punished for distributing coca leaves to students in their classes.

In Peru, coca leaves are considered a remedy, in our country they are banned. Picture: dpa

In the trial about coca leaves in class, a court in Bavaria has confirmed the acquittal of two teachers. Numerous spectators in the Memmingen Regional Court – including parents of affected students – reacted with applause on Tuesday.

In November 2012, the two teachers had invited a Peruvian woman to geography classes at a middle school in Weibenhorn to talk to the students about the customs of her home country. The Peruvian woman, who worked as a cleaning lady at the school, showed the seventh graders coca leaves as well as textiles and jewelry.

Individual students put the leaves in their mouths and chewed them, others took them home.

The leaves of the coca bush are considered a remedy in South America. Since they are the basic ingredient for cocaine, the leaves are banned in Germany. The public prosecutor’s office had charged the teachers – a man and a woman – with aiding and abetting the illegal distribution of narcotics to minors and appealed against the acquittal of the Neu-Ulm district court.

In his closing speech, the prosecutor accused the -year-old defendants of "blue-eyedness" and demanded high suspended fines for both of them.

The regional court Memmingen recognized however no resolution and confirmed the acquittal from first instance. In his reasoning, the judge said that it had not been clear to the teachers that the Peruvian woman was committing a criminal act. "If they had known something illegal was happening here, I’m sure they would have done something."

The Peruvian woman has already been legally convicted – she received a suspended fine.

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