21 June 2018

Update: What’s on the agenda for next week?

Counsel Sturm finished her closing statement today. However, before the court can ask the accused whether they have any last words, it has to deal with the motions for evidence brought by the Zschäpe defense. It has announced that it will hear the arson expert on details concerning the house in the Frühlingsstraße (see our report of [link] 7 June 2018 [/link]) on Tuesday. It is to be expected that the remaining two motions will be rejected.

In theory, the court would then be able to ask for any last words on Wednesday or Thursday and to pronounce its judgment in the trial week 3-5 July. However, both the court and the defense may also cause further delays in the trial schedule.

21 June 2018, morning session

Counsel Sturm on the definition of terrorism: nonsensical from a legal perspective, perfidious from a political perspective

In today’s morning session, counsel Sturm held her closing statement on the criminal liability of Beate Zschäpe as a member of the terrorist organization NSU. Sturm claimed that the NSU cannot be considered a terrorist organization within the meaning of Sect. 129a of the German Criminal Code. She based this, on the one hand, on an argument based on European law, which is simply nonsense, and on a political argument, which in effect defines racist terror attacks as per se non-terrorist.

The NSU, Sturm claimed, cannot be considered a terrorist organization in the sense of Sect. 129a as its crimes did not serve a specific terrorist purpose – such as instilling fear and terror in the (entire) population. Continue reading

20 June 2018

Closing statement of counsel Sturm still not finished. And: a change in the weather.

One could have thought that the third and second-to-last part of the closing statement of counsel Sturm – on whether or not Zschäpe is criminally liable as a founder and member of a terrorist organization – could have been rather short, relying as it does to a large part on her preceding statements on the evidence taken in court: since Beate Zschäpe was not involved in the crimes on an equal footing with Böhnhardt and Mundlos, but was simply the nice flatmate who loved kids,  she was not a member of the organization; since under German criminal law organizations have to consist of at least three members, the NSU was not an organization in the legal sense.

Continue reading

19 June 2018

Further tedious closing statement by counsel Sturm

Zschäpe defense counsel Sturm continued her closing statement today, but once more did not bring it to an end, announcing instead that she would wrap up tomorrow. After that, the court will also have to decide on the motions for evidence brought in the closing statement. Thus it will not be able to pronounce its judgment any earlier than the trial week of 3-5 July. 

Sturm tried once more to “evaluate” the evidence in order to show that Zschäpe was not an equal member of the NSU, but rather a friendly neighbor who loved kids and who more or less accidentally lived together with two men who happened to be murderers. Sturm frequently criticized the prosecution’s evaluation of the evidence, while at the same time massaging the facts at every opportunity.

Continue reading

13 June 2018

Beginning of the closing statement of counsel Sturm.

Today saw the beginning of the closing statement of Zschäpe counsel Sturm on Zschäpe’s criminal liability for founding of, and membership in, a terrorist organization. The statement was interrupted in the early afternoon as Sturm, who had suffered from coughing fits in the morning, announced that she was not feeling well. When asked by the presiding judge whether she was able to continue on for a short while (i.e. probably 20 or 30 minutes), she reacted in a theatrically indignant manner. On the other hand, she seemed well up to talking to the press for almost half an hour after the trial session had ended.

Continue reading

13 June 2018 

No trial session on 14 June 2018

The trial session scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, 14 June has been cancelled due to illness of defense counsel Sturm. The trial will continue next Tuesday.

12 June 2018

Closing statement of counsel Stahl on the question of co-perpetration

Today Zschäpe defense counsel Stahl gave his closing statement on Zschäpe’s criminal liability as a co-perpetrator of the murders, bombing attacks and robberies committed by the NSU. As announced by his colleague Heer last week, Stahl moved that Zschäpe be acquitted of all these charges.

Stahl began by announcing that the defense largely agreed with the prosecution as to which facts could be considered proven and only differed as to the legal characterization of these facts. In fact, however, his statement consisted of a mixture of attempts to attack the legal characterization of the facts as found by the prosecution – which, according to Stahl, did not establish Zschäpe’s liability as co-perpetrator – and attempts to attack these very facts and to defend Zschäpe’s self-presentation as someone who had only accompanied Böhnhardt and Mundlos underground more or less willingly and did not have anything to do with their crimes. Continue reading

7 June 2018

Counsel Heer concludes the closing statement on the Frühlingsstraße fire

Zschäpe defense counsel Heer today continued his long-winded statement on the criminal liability of his client for arson in the Frühlingsstraße house and for attempted murder of the old lady in the neighboring apartment and of two contractors working in the house. He spent the morning continuing to deal with the evidence in court, turning to legal questions in the afternoon.

It was already exhausting to follow his pseudo-exact and long-winded statements on the evidence, but this tendency became even worse for his statements on criminal liability. Heer spent several hours on detail questions of the law of arson, sounding like a law student wishing to show off his knowledge of all sorts of legal questions, even those that do not have any relevance to the case at hand. Continue reading

6 June 2018

Beginning of the closing statement on the Frühlingsstraße arson

Today defense counsel Heer began that part of his closing statement focusing on the arson in the Frühlingsstraße house. He did so in his usual pedantic and overcomplicated manner, which resulted in him being unable to finish his closing statement today. We will report in more detail tomorrow.

5 June 2018

Closing statement of counsel Heer: Why Beate Zschäpe is unable to make a valid statement in court.

The court began the trial day by reading out two short documents and viewing a propaganda video found on Wohlleben’s computer. It also denied two motions for evidence brought by the Wohlleben defense. Surprisingly, the defense reacted not with a motion for a trial break and a challenge for alleged bias, but rather not at all.

Accordingly, the closing statement of Zschäpe’s “old defense counsel” could begin before noon. Counsel Heer began and announced that the defense would need at least the entire trial week. He began with the concluding motions of the “old counsel”: conviction only for the arson in the Frühlingsstraße, acquittal concerning all other charges, a sentence amounting to time served or less, immediate release from detention. Continue reading