10/11 July 2013

Testimony concerning the Şimşek, Özüdoğru and Kiliç murder cases

In the morning of 10 July, the court informed the parties of further dates for the continuation of the trial. The court has announced dates until the end of 2014 and thus seems to foresee a much longer duration than originally, when the last trial date announced had been in early 2014.

Both trial days were mostly concerned with testimony concerning the murders of Şimşek, Özüdoğru and Kiliç, particularly as concerns the situations in which their bodies were found.

Police officers reported that Şimşek had been shot several times from two guns. Two witnesses who had passed Şimşek’s delivery van had heard “metallic sounds” and had seen two young men in bicyclist’s clothing run away from the scene. However, they were not able anymore to precisely describe the situation.

Clues concerning two young male cyclists dressed like bike couriers, who had been seen driving towards and then away from the murder scene, also came up early in the Habil Kiliç murder case. This murder was described as “professional” – Habil Kiliç was first shot in the head while standing behind the shop counter, then another shot was fired at his head while he was lying on the ground to make sure he would die.

One officer leading the investigation took particular care to state that the police had investigated “in all directions”. However, police had simply not thought possible that the two cyclists might be the killers.

The testimony of police officers was subject of disputes between victims’ counsel on the one hand and federal prosecutors and the court on the other. Above all prosecutors objected to all questions concerning the faulty police investigations. Some private prosecutors reacted with a statement in which they stressed that one question to be answered in the trial is whether or not the police would uphold their suspicions against their families and if not, for what reasons. Questions concerning this issue are thus pertinent for the trial. Prosecutor Diemer on the other hand stated that he would continue to object to all questions not directly concerning the guilt or innocence of the accused.

One examination that proved particularly difficult was that of Habil Kiliç’s widow, who had been in Turkey at the time of his murder. In the particular situation of an examination in court, she was not ready to describe her life circumstances then and now. She referred to several documents her counsel had sent to several agencies. Of course, the examination was already started in an insensitive manner by Presiding Judge Götzl. He asked the witness to state her current residence and it took specific protest from the witness for him to instead allow her to show her id card only to the court. One would have expected the presiding judge to consider beforehand potential fears of murder victims’ families and to take them into account. What’s more, the presiding judge only called in a translator after the witness stated that she was unable to continue. Given these difficulties, the testimony of Kiliç’s widow proved quite dissatisfactory.

Habil Kilic’s mother in law reported on how the murder had impacted on her family. Among other issues, her granddaughter’s school wanted her to switch to another school, claiming a danger of attacks on the school. It took considerable efforts to ensure that the granddaughter could stay in her school. The witness also reported how she had been interrogated by the police, against her wished, directly after having been informed of her son in law’s death.

A lack of sensitivity on the part of the presiding judge also showed when crime scene photos were shown as evidence and a photo of the naked body of Mr. Kiliç was projected onto the court room wall in the absence of any necessity of doing so – hardly a sensitive and dignified approach to communicating with the crime victims.

As expected, the motion by André Emingers defense to be allowed to remain absent from certain trial days was rejected by the court.

The Gerlach defense as well as victims’ counsel Kuhn and Hoffmann commented on the testimony of witnesses concerning statements of accused Gerlach. According to his defense, Gerlach had, from the very start, cooperated in an open and believable manner and without holding anything back and was thus eligible for a sentence reduction under the crown witness rule. What’s more, according to them Gerlach had never thought that the documents he had provided to “the Three” could be used for any wrongful means, let alone for crimes. By contrast, victims’ counsel stressed that the testimonies showed Gerlach to have reckoned with the weapon he had transported being used for politically motivated crimes. In addition, it has become clear that when providing his passport in 2011, Gerlach had anticipated that it would be used for further crimes.

Not discussed in open court, but nonetheless of considerable interest for private prosecutors were reports on a series of house searches in connection with the violent neo-Nazi network “Freies Netz Süd” (“Free Network South”). Reportedly, one of the apartments searched was the apartment where accused Andrè Eminger resides when in Munich during trial days.