23 June 2015

On the trio’s mens rea for murder from the very beginning

Today the court only heard one witness before interrupting to allow accused Zschäpe to get treatment for a toothache. His testimony, however, brought about rather interesting insights which once more called into question the prosecution thesis that the NSU had consisted only of three accused.

The witness reported that during the robbery of a supermarket in Chemnitz on 18 December 1998, he had been standing in front of the supermarket and had run after the fleeing robbers. One of them had called “don’t move”, had shot at him several times. He heard one bullet go past his head, another had hit the supermarket wall behind him – he had looked at the bullet hole at roughly shoulder height several times after that day.

He also reported that there had been three robbers. The person who had shot at him had run out of the supermarket earlier – this had been a rather slim person with a somewhat high voice, he was not sure whether male or female.

His testimony is important because it shows the NSU core members’ extreme propensity for violence already in late 1998 – at a time when Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt were living rather openly in the Nazi scene in Chemnitz.

If the third person is not accused Zschäpe – which is not to be excluded, but also not likely – the only alternative is that this was one of the trio’s supporters from the Nazi scene surrounding “Blood and Honour” and the “Skinheads 88” Chemnitz. Accordingly, the testimony of this witness is a further piece of evidence showing the close support and cooperation by the Nazi scene in Chemnitz, including in the commission of violent crimes – which would make the third person here not only a supporter, but also a co-perpetrator and thus a potential further NSU member.

This use of firearms without any restraint, less than a year after the three had gone underground and in the course of a robbery meant “only” to procure money, shows that they were willing to kill from the very beginning.

This cannot have escaped the notice of their supporters. After all, the three lived in Chemnitz, where the brutal robbery was frequently talked about, the use of firearms well known. Other testimony has shown that Böhnhardt and Mundlos did not try to hide the robbery, but that members of the scene talked about them not needing any more money as they were “doing jobs”, that several secret service informers reported on the robbery. The commission of this crime was the last moment from which on supporters in Chemnitz knew that Böhnhardt and Mundlos were willing to kill in order to reach their goals.

This is not only of importance for the various criminal investigations concerning accused supporters from Chemnitz – due to the close connection between the Nazi scenes in the various cities, it is also an important piece of evidence showing the requisite mens rea of those accused of supporting the NSU and aiding and abetting its crimes in the Munich trial.