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.