1 August 2017

Concluding statement of the federal prosecution, day 5: more on the Ceska and on Wohlleben and Schultze

Prosecutor Weingarten concluded his statement on accused Wohlleben and Schultze today. He showed that Wohlleben was the one responsible for coordinating the activities of all supporters, not only in general, but also with regard to the Ceska pistol, and that Schultze, as he himself had admitted, was also directly involved in the procurement of the pistol.

Weingarten then turned to the mens rea, i.e. to proving that Wohlleben and Schultze realized that there was at least a distinct possibility that Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe would commit murders with the pistol. With respect to Wohlleben, this is proved by the fact that he knew of the National Socialist ideology and propensity for violence of the NSU core trio, inter alia from debates in their group “Comradeship Jena” concerning “armed struggle”, as well as by the fact that he himself – contrary to his attempts to present himself as an “ethnopluralist” pacifist – had shared that National Socialist ideology. Continue reading

31 July 2017

Concluding statements of the federal prosecution, day 4: on Wohlleben and Schultze and on the Ceska murder weapon

The prosecution had originally announced that prosecutor Greger was to hold her statement on the fifteen brutal robberies committed by the NSU today. However, this was postponed, instead her colleague Weingarten began his concluding statement on accused Wohlleben, Schultze, Gerlach and Eminger. He announced that he would be able to deal only with Wohlleben and Schultze and the procurement of the Ceska murder weapon this weeks and would deal with Gerlach and Eminger after the summer break. All accused, regardless of how active or inactive their defense counsel had been in the trial and of how much interest the press showed in them, would receive the same amount of attention from the prosecution – a clear signal towards accused Gerlach and Eminger.  Continue reading

27. July 2017

Prosecution closing statement, day 3 – central attack on the interests of the victims and their representatives in the trial.

On the third day of the prosecution’s closing statement, prosecutor Greger continued to explain why accused Zschäpe is to be punished as a co-perpetrator of the NSU’s crimes, but only partially fulfilled the standards she had set for herself. As to the political background of the crimes, she referred to short statements in the “NSU letter” as well as several precursors to the video in which the NSU claimed responsibility for its crimes. One such statement was that “we, the NSU, will not gain attention with many words, but with deeds. As long as there are no far-ranging changes in the press, political institutions and with respect to freedom of speech, we will continue with our actions.” However, as the prosecution is proceeding from the assumption that the NSU as an isolated was not influenced by others at all, it could not convincingly portray the group’s ideology, its origins and its developments. Continue reading

26 July 2017

Prosecution closing statement, day 2 – continued attempts to reframe the NSU.

And: transcripts of the closing statement will continue.

Prosecutor Greger continued her closing statement today. Today she mostly focuses on proving, based on many small details, that Beate Zschäpe had played such a central role in the trio with Böhnhardt and Mundlos that she can be convicted as co-perpetrator of all NSU crimes, which would have been impossible without her involvement. In great detail, Greger presented Zschäpe’s involvement in renting apartments, upholding the ordinary façade vis-à-vis neighbors, providing mobile phones and SIM cards, renting cars and interacting with supporters.

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25 July 2017

Federal prosecution’s closing statement: for that which must not, cannot be.

And: full transcript of today’s statement to be published here

The trial day began as expected and then rather unexpectedly saw the start of the prosecution’s closing statement. The court first pronounced its decision denying the repeated defense motions that the closing statement be recorded. The defense requested an extended break, but did not in fact bring any further motions after the break. It seems that they shied away from another obviously meritless challenge for alleged bias, which also would have rendered them unable to use the summer break to prepare they answer to the prosecution’s statement.

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19 July 2017

Closing arguments postponed until next Tuesday

Several family members of victims of the NSU murders had made it to the courtroom in Munich, even if they had only been informed of the beginning of the closing arguments yesterday. However, they were not able to witness the beginning of these arguments, which instead were postponed until next Tuesday:

This morning, the court rejected the defense motion that the closing arguments be recorded. The defense first asked for an extended interruption in the trial and then brought a motion for reconsideration. This was followed by an extended debate between the court and several defense counsel, which ended with presiding judge Götzl announcing that the court will have to decide on the motion for reconsideration and that the trial will continue next Tuesday.

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18 July 2017

Closing arguments to start tomorrow.

After the court had made only slow steps towards an end of the trial in the last few weeks, it picked up all the more pace today: the first thing presiding judge Götzl did after opening the trial was to ask federal prosecutor Dr. Diemer whether the prosecution was prepared for its closing argument. Diemer’s reply was that the prosecution could start tomorrow.

And it looks like it will do just that: the court rejected the two remaining motions for evidence brought by the defense, then read out the criminal records of the accused and ended the taking of evidence.

Victims’ counsel noted that it might prove rather hard for those of their clients who wish to follow the prosecution’s closing arguments – to travel to Munich at a few hours’ notice, to organize vacation days at work etc. The court rather grudgingly took notice of these arguments and finally decided to start the trial day tomorrow at 11 am to give them some additional time for their travels.  Continue reading

11 July 2017

The end of the taking of evidence is drawing closer – very slowly. 

Some parties had forecast shortly before noon today that the court would conclude the taking of evidence this week: as expected, the court had rejected two motions by victims’ counsel on the involvement of the domestic secret service and the NSU support network (see the report of 5 July 2017). As to the challenge for bias against Zschäpe expert witness Prof. Bauer (see the report of 5 July 2017), the court had held that it was well-founded – a decision not even challenged by Zschäpe defense counsel Grasel. As to the conspiracy theory motion brought by the Wohlleben defense (see the report of 29 June 2017) that domestic secret service officer Temme had fired the shots that killed Halit Yozgat in Kassel, the court had done the necessary preparations for rejecting the motion: It had heard the testimony of an expert witness from the Bavarian criminal police, who stated that the gunshot residue found on Temme’s gloves could not only have been years old at the time, but also matched several different types of ammunition. Given that Temme had been a member of a gun club, these traces thus do not have any evidentiary value.  Continue reading

5 July 2017

More blocking and denying. And: Trial day tomorrow canceled.

Today’s trial again did not reveal much of any interest, but once again showed that the focus of the trial is much too narrow:

On the one hand, the federal prosecution remained true to its program of preventing all elucidation of the role of secret services and the Nazi network surrounding the NSU. Referring to press reports according to which an informer of the Hessian domestic secret service had talked about an organization called “National Socialist Underground Fighters” already in 1999, counsel for the Yozgat family had moved that his contact officer (to be named by the service) be heard as a witness and that the service’s files be consulted – after all, there is  a clear possibility that he referred to the organization later known as “National Socialist Underground”, and that this is of significance for the trial. Not so for prosecutor Weingarten, who seemed to have no doubts at all that the largely matching names could only be coincidental and that in any event, informer’s reports on the NSU in 1999 were wholly devoid of significance for the trial. Continue reading

29 June 2017

Another motion for evidence rejected, another challenge for alleged bias brought

The assigned counsel of accused Zschäpe announced today that they did not have any questions for expert witness Prof. Saß. Thus Saß’ expert testimony could finally be concluded, after a period of roughly six months during which he had time and again appeared in the courtroom to give his expert opinion and to answer questions. The defense announced that they would make further comments on their motion for an additional expert witness. They have been given until next week to do so.

The Wohlleben defense again tried its hand at conspiracy theory motions, asking for evidence concerning alleged gunshot residues on gloves found in the house of secret service officer Andreas Temme which allegedly conformed to the ammunition used in the commission of the murders. Of course, the defense neglected to mention that other evidence conclusively proves that Temme could not have been the shooter. Their motion will be rejected, like many before it. Continue reading