Berlin: Germany`s defence minister on Satuday
removed the commander of a troubled Navy training ship as the
nation`s most popular politician struggled to restore a sense
of control following a week of criticism.
Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg relieved
Commander Norbert Schatz of his duties at the helm of the
Gorch Fock training ship and ordered the vessel to return from
Argentina, where it is docked, to port in Germany.
Guttenberg said the ship would remain in port and all
training would be suspended pending the results of an
investigation into events surrounding the death of a
25-year-old sailor who plunged from the ship`s rigging in
"After so many factually harrowing reports, no one can
return to business as usual," Guttenberg told the news agency
DAPD in Koblenz, where he was attending an event.
The Gorch Fock incident was one of three that brought
the minister under fire from members of the opposition over
the past week.
He also had to deal with allegations that the Army
tried to cover up the shooting death of a soldier in
Afghanistan and the unauthorised opening of mail from
Chancellor Angel Merkel has made it clear that she
backs her minister.
"She supports and has faith that he will do what is
necessary, to clear up what happened and...to exact the
necessary consequences," Merkel`s spokesman Stefan Seibert
told reporters yesterday.
Guttenberg has sat atop the ZDF Politbarometer poll of
the nation`s most popular politician for months.
He is viewed as having successfully pushing through an end to