12 November 2013

On how Holger Gerlach supported the NSU – and on how witness protections officers supported Holger Gerlach?

Today’s trial day showed again that the very tight time schedule set by the presiding judge is hard to keep when it comes to difficult issues. Of eight witnesses called today, four had to be sent home without testifying, namely Mandy Struck, Uwe Böhnhardt’s mother Brigitte Böhnhardt, the publisher of a Nazi fanzine who had received a circular from the NSU, and a police officer. Witnesses who did testify include three employees of rental car agencies where mobile homes used in NSU crimes had been rented, including the vehicle used for the bank robbery in Eisenach after which Böhnhardt and Mundlos died. When that vehicle had been picked up, a woman with black hair and a small child had been present, however witnesses were unable to conclusively identify anybody.

The afternoon session was dedicated to the testimony of Sylvia Scheidemantel, who had in 2005/2006 sold her health insurance card to accused Holger Gerlach for 300 €. This card was used for at least one doctor’s visit, very likely by Beate Zschäpe. Personal details of the witness were also used for several non-official ID papers – apparently the NSU had received very precise personal details.

Scheidemantel’s testimony again proved to be a tedious poking in the fog of pretend forgetfulness. Of course the witness had not given any thought to the use her insurance card might be put to, of course she had never had political discussions with either Gerlach or her husband, through whom she knew Gerlach. That these two were “comrades” was, of course, of no interest for her. And of course she had no recollection of having talked to her husband either before or after being interrogated by the police.

One interesting aspect of her testimony concerns a meeting with Gerlach in 2012. According to the witness, shortly after Gerlach had been released from detention, he had been brought to her home and picked up later by witness protection officers. “Gerlach called my husband. Besides us, Holger’s mother and Holger’s girlfriend were present. I mostly talked to [these two] and did not notice the discussion between the two [Gerlach and her husband Alexander Scheidemantel]. The witness protection officers brought him there and picked him up again later, two plainclothes police officers”, the witness related.

If this proves true, it would be a scandalous misconduct by witness protection officers to allow Gerlach to directly influence important witnesses against him. Victims’ counsel therefore moved that the court find out whether there are records of this event, to ask the officers involved for official statements and to call them as witnesses.