NSU Trial: Severance of the counts concerning the Keupstraße bombing attack threatened
The following is a common press release of victims counsel Carsten Ilius, Antonia von der Behrens, Sebastian Scharmer, Peer Stolle, Christina Clemm, Edith Lunnebach, Alexander Hoffmann, Berthold Fresenius, Stephan Kuhn and Angelika Lex.
During the trial hearing of 15 May 2013, presiding judge Götzl announced that he was contemplating a severance of those counts of the indictment relating to the Keupstraße bombing attack in Cologne. This would mean that a trial concerning the Keupstraße bombing attack would only be conducted in two or three years’ time or, far more likely, that there would simply be no trial at all on these counts: A conviction of Beate Zschäpe for the remaining counts, resulting in a sentence of life imprisonment and a finding of “particular seriousness of the convicted person’s guilt” (under German criminal law, this would mean that a first parole hearing would not be held after fifteen years, but after a significantly longer period of incarceration), would mean that the Keupstraße proceedings could simply be continued, under Sect. 154 of the German Code of Criminal Procedure, as a conviction in that case would be incapable of leading to a material change in the sentence.
The idea of a potential severance seems to have been inspired by a defence complaint about the size of the courtroom, particularly given that further persons affected by the Keupstraße bombing attack may join the proceedings as private prosecutors.
The only conceivable reason for a severance would be the wish of the court to get rid of the Keupstraße victims and private prosecutors currently taking part in the trial. Most importantly, a severance would not obviate the need to hear evidence on the Keupstraße bombing atack. As stated by Carsten Ilius, counsel for Elif Kubaşık, the widow of Mehmet Kubaşık who was murdered by the NSU in Dortmund: “The bombing attack is also of particular relevance for the other counts of the indictment, above all the 10 counts of murder. The character of the NSU’s deeds as racist crimes finds prominent expression in the Keupstraße bombing attack.”
What’s more, the courtroom is of quite sufficient size. There were a number of free seats on the private prosecution bench today. The presiding judge’s idea that the court room is too small for potential additional private prosecutors from the Keupstraße is pure speculation at this point. And finally: should the court room actually turn out to be too small, it would simply be the court’s task to find a larger courtroom instead of ousting victims from the proceedings.
For the victims and private prosecutors, a severance of these counts would be nothing less than a further slap in the face. It would be a clear signal to all victims of Nazi terror that the Munich Higher Regional Court is prepared to run roughshod over their interests.
The attack took place on 9 June 2004, when a nail bomb was detonated in the Keupstraße in Cologne, a street inhabited predominantly by people with Turkish roots. 22 people were injured, several of them severely. 70 people were present in the bomb’s blast radius. The Keupstraße attack was the biggest of the NSU crimes from a propaganda perspective. It was intended to, and it did, instill fear and terror in the German population of Turkish origin. The many Keupstraße residents affected by the attack knew quite well, and despite the many denials of law enforcement agencies and politician over several years, that this could have been nothing other than a racist terror attack. The law enforcement agencies, on the other hand, directed their investigations against the Keupstraße residents. The victims had to wait almost a decade before the likely perpetrators were found and a trial against them began – having to wait another several years or having the proceedings simply discontinued would be simply unbearable for them.
The court proceedings this afternoon will be devoted inter alia to statements by the federal prosecutor’s office and by victims’ counsel on the questions of severance.
Antonia von der Behrens, Sebastian Scharmer, Peer Stolle, Christina Clemm, Edith Lunnebach, Alexander Hoffmann, Berthold Fresenius, Stephan Kuhn, Angelika Lex.