Nikos Logothetis is finally vindicated: German court dismisses animal welfare accusations against him

According to an article just published in Nature, the case against prominent neuroscientist Nikos Logothetis has been dismissed by a German court.

To recap, in 2014 as reported (here, here, here, here), the campaign began with edited video footage from a member of the anti-animal research group SOKO who had infiltrated the facility by working as a technician in animal husbandry. The video shared publicly consisted of brief clips taken from many hours of footage. Animal protection authorities investigated and found no serious violations of animal care rules. Speaking of Research published a detailed article in about this case that can be found here. However, one problem remained: three of the monkeys in the lab had been sick and Logothetis was accused of having waited too long to euthanize them. In fact, two of the monkeys were medically treated and recovered, while the third had to be euthanized at the end (see here for detailed explanation). In an unusual move, the Attorney General asked the prosecutor to place a penalty order against Logothetis. He appealed the order, so the case was headed to court in three weeks. However, the administrative court in Tübingen decided on December 19 to dismiss the case.

Unfortunately, much more work remains to be done to undo the serious damage done to Dr. Logothetis. Independently of the court’s actions, the Max Planck Society removed his authorization to conduct animal research. Last summer, members of Speaking of Research wrote an open letter to the Max Plank Society defending Dr. Logothetis and protesting the actions against him. The letter was signed by 164 scientists and moved scientific societies, including the STAR coalition, the Society for Neuroscience, the International Brain Research Organization, and the Federation of Neuroscience Societies to express concerns about the actions of the Max Planck Society.

We hope that this court decision and calls from the scientific community will motivate the Max Planck Society to finally restore the authority of Dr. Logothetis to perform research on monkeys and to try to undo the damage they have caused to his reputation. Infiltrations and other tactics used against animal research represent a continuing challenge that can affect any research institution and the animals that are kept there. As we have said previously, it is time that institutions like the Max Planck Society devote more effort to respond effectively and supportively instead of turning against their own scientists when the going gets rough.

Speaking of Research