The fire in the NSU apartment in the Frühlingsstraße in Zwickau
Today’s fifteenth trial day saw the testimony of two police officers concerning the fire in the NSU’s apartment in the Frühlingsstraße in Zwickau. The apartment had been set on fire after the death of Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos; the indictment charges Beate Zschäpe with aggravated arson and attempted murder of three persons who would normally have been present in the same building, but who by happy coincidence either were not present of were able to leave the house in time.
The testimony of an arson investigator from the Zwickau criminal investigation department in particular lasted several hours, aided by many photos from the crime scene. His testimony is far from over and will be resumed in three weeks’ time. However, it has already become clear today that the fire was deliberately started with gasoline.
There were also some interesting details not concerning the fire itself. For one, the apartment and the basement room belonging to it contained security measures such as several locks, security cameras and radio signal devices. Interestingly, one of the cameras is not present on a photo taken a few weeks before the fire – the significance, if any, of this fact will still have to be determined.
Among the rubble, police officers found a total of 11 guns as well as handcuffs that had belonged to Michèle Kiesewetter, a police officer murdered by the NSU. These findings as well will be subject of further witness testimony.
A first glance into the Özüdoğru murder investigation
After the testimony of accused Schultze ended last week, this week saw the testimony of the first witnesses concerning the murder of Abdurrahim Özüdoğru, who was killed by shots to the head in his Nuremberg tailor shop on 13 June 2001. The questioning of police officers involved in the investigation afforded the parties a first glimpse into the mindset that made it possible for the serial murders of the Nazi NSU to be considered “kebap murders” and for investigations to be directed only against the victims and their environment: While neighbors who testified all described the victim as a very friendly neighbor, the most important detail for a crime scene officer seems to have been the “grown disorder” in the shop and the adjoining apartment. His report in the case file also contains some derogatory statements concerning Turkish people.
A neighbor who in 2012 had testified to the police that she had seen Beate Zschäpe at the crime scene now stated that she was afraid to testify for fear that someone might kill her. Whether her 2012 statement is reliable, or whether the witness fails to differentiate between her recollection of events and information she learned after the fact, can only be determined after looking at the protocol of her 2012 statement. Accordingly, one victim’s counsel moved that it be added to the case file.
There are no direct witnesses for the murder of Abdurrahim Özüdoğru. The killing will however be attributable to the NSU based on the weapon used as well as NSU videos celebrating their deeds.
These claims of responsibility in video form – the infamous “Pink Panther”-Video as well as two earlier versions – were shown today between two witness statements. Reactions among accused ranged from demonstrative disinterest on the part of Beate Zschäpe and her defence to shocked consternation on the part of accused Schultze.
Early during the trial day, victims’ counsel had made a motion to take evidence based on a revelation last week that Zschäpe was in contact via letter with Robin Schmiemann, a violent Nazi. Counsel moved that Schmiemann and a contact person of his be questioned as witnesses. The motion aims at showing concrete contacts between the Nazi scenes in Dortmund and Kassel, two locations of NSU murders, in particular a meeting between on the one hand Nazis from Dortmund and Kassel, including secret service informers, and on the other hand Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt during a Nazi rock concert on 18 March 2006, only weeks before the murders in Dortmund and Kassel.