2 September 2015

Summer break over, and Wohlleben defense counsel tries to attack witness

The first trial day after the summer break was rather unspectacular. The first witness was a taxi driver who, according to the investigation so far, had driven Beate Zschäpe to Zwickau train station early on 16 June 2011, the day she travelled to Haste to pick up a passport from co-accused Gerlach. However, the witness did not remember events the way they were set out in a police report contained in the case file. Today the witness claimed that he had first driven Zschäpe to the train station and had then driven her, Böhnhardt and Mundlos back to the Frühlingsstraße a little while later. It remains to be seen whether the testimony of the police officer who had questioned the taxi driver back then will clear up this issue further.

The court then continued the testimony of a witness who had already testified on 29 April and 20 July 2015. The witness had reported that he had given Uwe Böhnhardt and others a false alibi in a trial in Jena in 1997, which had resulted in an acquittal for Böhnhardt. He had also reported that Zschäpe and Wohlleben had also been involved in that crime. Accordingly, the Wohlleben defense tried to present the witness as lying and requested that he be asked to swear an oath “in order to achieve a truthful testimony.”However, defense counsel Klemke was not able to go beyond empty rhetoric to show why the witness might have committed a perjury. Victims’ counsel showed that the core of his testimony remained constant throughout all interviews. As summarized by counsel Antonia von der Behrens: „The witness is to be commended for having the courage to testify in the detailed and concrete manner shown today“. The court quickly denied the motion by the Wohlleben defense.

Interestingly, the Zschäpe defense showed no special interest in this witness, despite the fact that he incriminates Zschäpe as co-perpetrator in one of the early crimes by the group.