Presiding judge Götzl complains about criticism of the police investigation
Today’s trial day saw many attempts by presiding judge Götzl to choke off critical questions by victims’ counsel directed at police officers. Again and again, he objected to such questions, arguing that they were without relevance to the judgment in this case. Victims’ counsel were nonetheless able to get most relevant questions in by repeating, rewording questions and generally being persistent.
First to testify was the former head of the Gotha police. He had headed the investigation after the bank robbery in Eisenach on 4 November 2011, and he had also linked that case with the fire in the Frühlingsstraße which had apparently been set by Zschäpe. He stated that he had been investigating a series of bank robberies and had suspected that another was planned for that Friday. He had therefore had police officers at the ready in Gotha and had set up checkpoints at certain strategically relevant positions. That was why the mobile home with Böhnhardt und Mundlos could be found. The witness had driven to the scene, had been the first to enter the mobile home and had seen the two dead bodies. The weapon stolen in Heilbronn during the murder of police officer Kiesewetter had been found and had provided the link to that crime. Inquiries with the car rental agency had led to Holger Gerlach and thus provided a link to the Nazi scene, accordingly he had been certain that this was not just a bank robbery.
The witness gave contradictory answer, however, when asked about the time he had identified Uwe Mundlos. After repeated questioning he stated that he had, already on 4 November, given the order that a missing person file on Mundlos be requisitioned. In the night of 4 November, the dead man had been identified as Uwe Mundlos by means of finger prints taken by pathologists. The witness was unable to explain why he had asked for the missing persons file already before the identification of Mundlos and in the absence of further clues leading to “the Three”. The suspicion thus remains that the police knew earlier than officially acknowledged that they were on the heels of Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt. The presiding judge continuously objected to questions on this issue – apparently he is trying to preserve the positive presentation of the investigation after 4 November 2011.
Two police detectives from Dortmund again proved a perfect example of the prejudiced way many German police officers think. Asked why the police had not investigated possible leads to Nazi perpetrators in the Kubaşik murder case – after all, this was the eighth in a series of what were clearly racist murders –, one of them answered that “the only connection that we could find was the Ceska pistol”. That all victims had been “foreigners” and that this could be a connection in providing a racist motive apparently had not even entered their mind – the sort of thinking that led to victims in all cases were considered in no other role than potentially somehow suspicious persons. Questions aiming at uncovering these inner prejudices were also objected to by the presiding judge, who apparently aims at keeping that issue out of the trial.