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German Comedian Accused Of Insulting Turkish President Takes Time Off

German comedian Jan Boehmermann, who is accused of insulting Turkey's president, says he is taking a four-week time out as he faces a criminal probe.

Boehmermann said on Facebook on April 16 that he was taking a "short TV break."

German state broadcaster ZDF said in a statement the production break of the show Neo Magazin Royale, which is hosted by Boehmermann and aired by ZDF, will last until May 12.

The broadcaster said it respected the comedian's decision to take time off.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on April 15 that Berlin has accepted a request from Ankara to open a formal criminal probe against the comedian who read out on TV a crude poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey has demanded the comedian be prosecuted for insulting a foreign head of state. Under German law, Merkel's government had to grant permission.

"The government will give its authorization in the case at hand," Merkel said, adding that it was up to the courts to decide on his guilt or innocence.

However, Merkel also announced that Germany would scrap by 2018 the rarely enforced section 103 of the criminal code -- insulting organs or representatives of foreign states.

Boehmermann read the poem on ZDF television two weeks ago to illustrate what he said wouldn't be allowed in Germany, contrasting it with another channel's earlier satirical song that also poked fun at Erdogan and angered Turkey.

Based on reporting by dpa, Reuters, and AFP