Further testimony of former informer Carsten Szczepanski. And: The end of the common front – motions for evidence brought by the Wohlleben defense
The first witness today was the police bomb expert who finished his testimony on the nail bomb in the Keupstraße in Cologne. The court then continued with the questioning of former secret service informer Carsten Szczepanski (we reported on the first day of his testimony on 3 December 2014).
As was to be expected, his testimony was a rather sluggish affair, his memory of (or his will to remember) former “comrades”, names and dates rather bad. Szcepanski did, at least, report rather openly on the scene’s ideology and propensity towards violence. Victims’ counsel summarized the results of his questioning in an oral statement of which a summary is available (in German) here. One of the conclusions to be drawn is that the Nazi scene in the 1990s was openly calling for racist violence and for “armed struggle”. Shockingly, the witness was able to continue his political activities throughout the period of being an informer for the secret service – inter alia, he continued publishing an extremely violent zine even while being imprisoned, even vetting articles with the service before publishing them.
Szczepanski had told the service that Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt were in Chemnitz and being supported by the local “Blood and Honour” section, but no arrests followed – showing that the secret service was simply not interested in combating Nazism and in arresting them.
Szczepanski had originally been called to testify both today and tomorrow; as his testimony was finished today, presiding judge Götzl simply cancelled tomorrow’s trial day.
At the end of the trial day, the Wohlleben defense brought a number of motions for evidence, which all contain one core claim, namely that it was not Ralf Wohlleben who was the central figure among those supporting the three who had gone underground, but that the support was provided mainly by “Blood & Honour” Saxony, who were responsible for the radicalization of Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos which ended in the NSU murders and who also provided them with the guns used. In order to prove this claim, the defense moved that all relevant members of B&H Saxony as well as the former leaders of B&H Thuringia and B&H Germany be called to testify.
As clearly visibly in the expressions of Zschäpe defense attorneys Heer and Stahl, this is a serious distancing of the Wohlleben defense from that of co-accused Zschäpe. Interestingly, the witnesses the defense wishes to question are party of the very scene on which the court has focused, largely based on motions by victims’ counsel, in the last weeks and months – a focus criticized not only by the federal prosecution and the Zschäpe defense, but also by the defense of Ralf Wohlleben. Victims’ counsel, who were criticized for allegedly delaying the trial, can take these motions as a sign that they were on the right track – particularly as some of the defense motions were based on insider knowledge, e.g. a claim that Böhnhardt and Mundlos were present at the meeting in which B&H Saxony decided on its own dissolution.
At the same time, it is more than unlikely that the Wohlleben defense will succeed in its attempt to present their client as rather harmless and clueless (compared to B&H Saxony) and thus as innocent. Both the objective evidence and the statement by co-accused Schultze clearly show that Schultze and Wohlleben had provided “the Three” with a silenced pistol, a weapon which could only have been needed for acts of political assassination.
The Wohlleben defense has obviously read the signs inherent in the court’s denial of its last motion to release Wohlleben from pre-trial detention: Wohlleben faces a very long prison term because the evidence shows he provided the silenced Ceska pistol, because it is clear from his involvement, next to Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos, in the so-called “Volkstod”-campaign, from his knowledge of the extreme aggression and propensity for violence of Uwe Böhnhardt, that he knew exactly whom he provided with that murder weapon. The motions brought today are an attempt to use the recently uncovered facts concerning Chemnitz supporters in order to pass the buck to them. Of course, Böhnhardt and Mundlos had already received material for building bombs from B&H in Chemnitz, had already set up a bomb workshop in Jena, had in other words had the tools for conducting bombing attacks, the requisite mens rea as well as connections to B&H, already at a time when they were still in Jena and thus still very close to Wohlleben both politically and personally – a fact which the defense motions omit to mention. The absence of proof of contact between Wohlleben and B&H Saxony in the period between 1998 and the early 2000s is likely to be explained by the fact that the police were conducting investigations against him for the explosives crimes in Jena, which led him as the central supporter of “the Three” to try to keep a low profile.