10 June 2015

Zschäpe wants new defense lawyers, Part II – now she wants Anja Sturm to go.

After several interruptions, the presiding judge announced that Zschäpe had made a motion that defense attorney Anja Sturm be relieved of her position. The reasons for that motion are still not known. Court was adjourned for the day.

Zschäpe had already declared once, on 16 July 2014, that she had lost trust in her defense lawyers. Her motion to relieve all three of their positions had been rejected a few days later because the court held that the reasons she had provided were insufficient.

It is clear that relieving a defense lawyer is an option only for extreme cases – relieving all three lawyers would mean that the entire trial would have to be repeated. The code of criminal procedure foresees such a step only where an accused provides reasons which show a lasting und non-repairable loss of trust between accused and counsel which renders counsel unable to properly conduct the defense.

Without speculating about the details, it is safe to say that it is unlikely that Zschäpe will present such reasons. It remains to be seen whether she will provide detailed reasons for her motion this time. It does seem that she has accepted that she will not be able to get rid of all three counsel and is now trying to have one of them exchanged for a new one.
We can only repeat what we stated last summer:

“Zschäpe’s wish to be provided totally different defense attorney will not be fulfilled. Maybe one of her lawyers will voluntarily give u his spot to make room for a new attorney who will join the defense quite unprepared. Another option would be for the court to simply appoint an additional lawyer. In any event, it is far from clear whether this would lead to big changes in the trial or to Zschäpe deciding to testify.”

However, it needs to be said that the way the three attorneys conduct themselves in the proceedings is somewhat surprising. They have known for about a year that Zschäpe is very critical of their work. But this does not lead them to seek her out during breaks in the trial, instead preferring the cigarette break and the cameras in front of the court building.
A similar picture could be seen this morning: the defense attorneys first left their client waiting in the courtroom for quite some time, then started talking to her animatedly, earning only shakes of the head in response. Wolfgang Heer moved that the trial be interrupted in order for them to talk to their client – but when this motion was granted, Zschäpe left for the holding cell alone while Sturm, Stahl and Heer first discussed among themselves in front of the court building, then had a meeting with the prosecutors. They must have known of Zschäpe’s motion to relieve Sturm at this point – why they sought out the prosecution instead of their client at this point is hard to fathom.