The judgment of the Court protects the state and once more abandons the victims.
The Higher Regional Court of Munich, with its judgment today, has dealt a severe blow to those who are interested in a real fact-finding on the crimes of the NSU and their background. By limiting itself to a severe conviction for Beate Zschäpe, while at the same time playing down the criminal acts and ideology of supporters and denying any responsibility of state organs, the court goes a lot farther than was to be feared based on the evidence heard in court. Continue reading
Verdict to be pronounced on Wednesday, 11 July. Last words of the accused without any surprises.
Today the public gallery in the courtroom was filled to the very last place. However, before the court could give the accused the opportunity to present their last words, victim’s counsel Erdal brought a final motion: back in February, he had moved that the Christian cross in the courtroom be removed during the pronouncement of the verdict; this motion had been rejected by the presiding judge just yesterday. Today Erdal asked for a review of that decision by the full court. He remained unsuccessful.
Last words of the accused next week, pronouncement of the verdict likely on 10/11/12 July
The most important result of today’s trial session is that, in the view of the court, all that needs to be done before it can begin its deliberations is to hear the last words of the accused.
The court will hear these last words next Tuesday, 3 July. With the exception of Eminger, all accused have stated that they will make short submissions of 5 minutes or less. The court has not explicitly stated when it is planning to pronounce its verdict, but it seems very likely that it will take a week for its deliberations, with a verdict being pronounced on 10/11/12 July.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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