Monthly Archives: December 2013

20 December 2014

Today’s trial day was rather short. The witness, who had been meant to testify via video-link, was unable to testify due to age and ill health. This is unlikely to change, the court will presumably instead introduce the content of her statement to the police via the minutes of that testimony and via testimony of the police officers who had questioned her.

The trial will continue on 8 January 2014.

19 December 2013

The testimony of Uwe Mundlos‘ father continued today. At the end of his testimony, victim’s counsel Alexander Hoffmann, also on behalf of co-counsel Clemm, Dr. Elberling, Fresenius, Ilius, Kuhn, Lex, Lunnebach, Scharmer, Stolle, van der Behrens, made the following statement in court:

The testimony of witness Dr. Mundlos was shaped above all by his attempts to free his son of all responsibility for the crimes committed by the NSU. Dr. Mundlos has apparently formed a conception of events according to which his son appears only as innocent victim of misguided police investigations, tempted by informers for the secret service, who only out of friendship accompanied Uwe Böhnhardt and Beate Zschäpe underground.

The witness Dr. Mundlos is unable to reflect on his own failures in raising his son, on his inability to adequately counter his son’s Nazi ideology, on his inner refusal to accept that he has underestimated the danger emanating from his son’s ideology and his son personally. By talking about twelve victims of the NSU, and thus apparently including his son and Uwe Böhnhardt in that count, he reveals that he has lost his grip on reality and that he refuses to accept the facts. This may be taken as an understandable reaction of a broken-hearted father who has lost his son in more than one sense. But it needs to be taken into account in evaluating his testimony.

However, this evaluation should not lead the court to mark off his testimony as irrelevant in all its parts. The observances, as related by the witness, of the activities of the domestic secret service and its officers are relevant for this trial. The influence of paid informers, the founding of the “Thuringia Home Guard” by informer Brandt, the provision of explosives by informer Starke, the fact that several informers were in the direct vicinity of those supporting Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt after they had gone underground – all of these are facts which will have to be taken into account in evaluating the guilt of the accused.

18 December 2013

Mundlos senior – desparate denials.

This week’s trial days will focus on the father of Uwe Mundlos. Additionally, the old lady who was present in the house in the Frühlingsstraße when Zschäpe set fire to that house will testify via video-link. The court had originally planned to continue the testimony, started on 22 November, of “Thüringer Heimatschutz”-activist André Kapke, one of the closest confidants of Zschäpe, Mundlos, Böhnhardt, Gerlach and Wohlleben. His testimony has now been pushed to next year.

The questioning of Dr. Mundlos, who had last testified in the parliamentary enquiry in Thuringia, by the court proved very difficult. Early on he clashed quite severely with presiding judge Götzl who wanted him to answer questions, but refrain from monologues. This scene ends with the witness stopping himself just short of calling the presiding judge a “smart ass”.

Mundlos senior desparately tried to deny any guilt or responsibility on the part of his son or his family, claiming that it was only contact with secret service informers and Uwe Böhnhardt which pushed him towards the right and that he had tried all he could to get his son to change his ways. He also claimed that prosecutors had unjustly conducted investigations against “the Three”, which led to their going underground. The same applies for events following their going underground – according to the witness, responsibility lies primarily with state organs. Several times he calls upon the federal prosecutor to make the acts of state organs subject of the proceedings.

After Mundlos senior had stated towards the NSU’s victims that he was interested in “the whole thing” being illuminated and that “the German people” had a right to a full investigation, the presiding judge, quite exasperated at that point, ended his questioning for the day, to be continued tomorrow.

9 to 11 December 2013

This trial week brought hardly any relevant results.

A police officer reported on her investigations concerning Zschäpe’s whereabouts between leaving the burning house in the Frühlingsstraße in Zwickau and surrendering to the police. The details of this tour will be introduced via more direct witnesses lateron.

One interesting insight was provided by the testimony of a neighbor from the Polenzstraße in Zwickau and her son. The neighbor had apparently found in Zschäpe a friend who was willing to listen to her speak about her worries and who continued to visit her after moving out of the Polenzstraße. Zschäpe had not only listened, but had also helped out with grocery shopping. During her police questioning, the witness had expressed her horror over groceries bought with “blood money”. She made no such statement in court, quite to the contrary, there was an atmosphere closer to solidarity between the witness and her former friend.

Next to testify was her son, who could not speak in detail about everyday life with Zschäpe. However, he claimed, as had his mother before him, that Zschäpe had warned him from drifting into the right-wing scene. However, his reports on that conversation and that of his mother differed very significantly as regards central aspects. It seems likely that mother and son were trying to show their common acquaintance and friend Zschäpe in a positive light.

This is all the more so given that the son, while claiming not to have anything to with “right wing politics”, showed a significant affinity with a neo-Nazi world view and thus had a motive to help Zschäpe. Having been read quotes from an interview he had given anonymously, he stated that he “very honestly hated” asylum seekers who “did not work”. Asked about claims by NSU victims for compensation, he characterized them as “absolutely unsocial. There are other people who have experienced worse things. … They don’t get any compensation.” Finally, he also admitted that his face book page showed approving links to the right-wing campaign against a home for asylum seekers in Schneeberg and for the right wing rock band “Endstufe”. Asked in what way he differed from a “right winger”, he stated that right wingers showed their political opinions openly while he tried to hide his. Given this definition, many of the right wing witnesses in this trial could probably be described as “apolitical”, at least when it comes to their testimony in court.

Finally, some holiday acquaintances of “the Three” repeated what others before them had stated: in the context of rather costly holidays among Germans, Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe were nice neighbors, fond of kids, with whom one could easily spend time. Beate Zschäpe was the motherly type who cared for “her men” and who was in charge of the money.

5 December 2013

More on the Hessian domestic secret service – and a challenge for bias lacking any merit.

Today’s trial day began with a motion by victims’ counsel that the witness counsel accompanying Temme’s former informer be disqualified from taking part in the trial. This counsel had been provided to the witness by the Hessian domestic secret service before his first questioning by federal police. In today’s trial, too, he seemed to be more concerned with safeguarding the interest of the secret service than those of the man who was ostensibly his client: He objected to questions concerning a possible influence of the secret service on the testimony of the witness, arguing that the answers to such questions exceeded the scope of the “permission to testify” provided to the witness by the secret service. Earlier, he had not intervened when the witness was asked a number of other questions which arguably also went beyond that permission, but which did not touch the interests of the secret service. If these answers did indeed exceed the scope of the permission, the counsel thus allowed the witness to commit the crime of betrayal of state secrets. This shows that the counsel did not safeguard the interests of the witness, but (also) those of the domestic secret service. The court disagreed and denied the motion.

Further questioning of the witness again proved to be a rather slow and cumbersome process. It seems that the witness did not understand many questions, and where he did, he either could not or would not remember anything. He did make one interesting statement, namely that he worked as an informer for the military secret service before the domestic secret service.

Questioning by victim’s counsel Antonia von der Behrens again showed the problems arising from the court’s refusal to make the case file against Temme part of the current case file: She had looked at that case file in the office of the federal prosecutor and now quoted to the witness from her noted. The Wohlleben defence claimed that this procedure was not admissible – the court disagreed and allowed Ms. von der Behrens to quote from her notes.

This decision than moved the Wohlleben defence to challenge presiding judge Götzl for bias, claiming that in all earlier questionings, those quoting from documents not contained in the case file had been required to provide the court with a copy. This challenge seems quite silly – it is generally accepted that quotes from one’s own notes are acceptable, and it seems rather sensible that a questioner cannot be required to provide a copy of a document she simply does not have.

The court postponed the decision in order to finish the testimony of the witness. However, he was not finally dismissed, but will probably have to appear before the court once more.

3/4 December 2013

The domestic secret service remembers nothing

All trials days of this week concern the murder of Halit Yozgat in Kassel, in particular what former domestic secret service agent Andreas Temme, who was present at the crime scene, had seen. Both in the criminal investigation against him as well as in the current trial, Temme claims not to remember much of anything. His testimony was far from convincing. On Tuesday he continued with his confused stories. His questioning, which is far from being finished, so far did not advance the trial at all.

Before his testimony, the court had again decided that the case files against Temme would not become part of the court’s case file – victims’ counsel had asked the court to reconsider its earlier decision to that effect. The court remains steadfast in its opinion that all material contained in those case files is without relevance to the present proceedings – probably because it is not strictly necessary for convicting the present accused.

That this decision does not make much sense and that it leads to a cumbersome procedure became clear during the testimony of Temme’s former informer. Counsel for the Yozgat family had used quotes from the case files against Temme, which they had received a while ago from the federal prosecution, to refresh the memory of the witness. The presiding judge demanded that they provide printouts of these pages to the court – an absurd situation given that the court had just previously declined to take these pages into account. Counsel for the Yozgat family offered to provide the court with copies of all those parts of the case file which they had received, but the presiding judge instead ordered that each document from the case file so used would have to be printed out and provided to the court.

Both witnesses are supposed to testify further on Thursday. If the presiding judge continues to rely on the current cumbersome procedure, this testimony will take quite a while. It seems that presiding judge Götzl has problems getting unwilling witnesses to talk, which leads to a quite severe lengthening of the trial.