27 January 2015

Keupstraße victims: how does one prove fear and mental anguish?

Today the court heard several witnesses who were in the range of the explosion, but who did not suffer serious bodily injury. Accordingly, their statements were much less spectacular than those of the witnesses last week, many of whom were severely injured. Sadly this also led to presiding judge Götzl rushing through the taking of evidence. Despite the fact that some of these witnesses have been allowed to join the proceedings as private accessory prosecutors as they are victims of attempted murder, the court has troubles in taking seriously the anxiety and other psychological damages suffered by these victims.

Interestingly, while these witnesses differed in the way they reported on these events, the core of their statements was very similar. All of them had heard and felt the explosion, some of them had suffered inner ear injuries, and they all reported on their ongoing anxiety triggered most of all by the nails some of which hit a shop 100 meters from the explosion.

Some of them had not gone to doctors or therapists with their problems, some had done so grudgingly, either because they did not want to admit their problems to themselves or due to unspecified fears. It became clear once again that the Keupstraße victims would have needed a program of psycho-social support, which however nobody offered to them.

Pretty much all of them also reported that the police had treated them “like perpetrators”, had asked them time again about their contacts to “mafia”, PKK or Hizbullah even though they told detectives clearly that this bombing attack could only have come from racists and Nazis. One witness even reported that one detective had made shushing gestures and noised and had ordered him to never again talk about racists and Nazis.

One witness had seen Böhnhardt carefully push the bicycle with the bomb towards the Keupstraße. She reported that she had been shown the video footage from the Viva building, but that she had not been shown pictures of German suspects from the Nazi scene – such pictures would have included Böhnhardt and Mundlos who were wanted for explosives offenses in Jena, allowing an uncovering of the entire NSU at this point in time.

Another witness, who was on his motorcycle, had almost been hit by a bicyclist cycling away from the scene of the explosion at very high speed. He had told the police about this the same day and had also later connected the pictures from the video camera with that bicyclist, but he had never been seriously interviewed by the police. He also described the way the police had treated the victims of the attack, some of which were still covered in blood. One of them had told him “this is not normal, they are trying to tell us that we did this to ourselves!”