24 September 2015

The difficulty of the plains, part II: DNA evidence supports the network theory

Yesterday and today, the court heard the report of an expert witness working for the federal criminal police who reported on DNA evidence found on items seized in the Frühlingsstraße apartment and the mobile home in which Böhnnhardt and Mundlos had died. The expert witness began by detailing the methods used and problems encountered, particularly where there was DNA material from several persons on one item. As to accused Eminger, there is a further issue since he has a twin brother – if, as claimed by the defence, they are identical twins, they also have identical DNA.

Many of the findings he reported on today have already been dealt with in the trial and reported on in this blog: Zschäpe’s DNA found on parts of the NSU’s newspaper archive, Mundlos‘ and Böhnhardt’s DNA found on several weapons. They support the other evidence in showing that Böhnhardt and Mundlos used the bicycles, clothes, masks and guns found to commit the NSU crimes, while Zschäpe was not directly involved in the commission of the murders and robberies, but in organizing the day to day, finding identity papers and apartments, rental vehicles and generally allowing life underground to go on.

However, also found in the mobile home in Eisenach were a water bottle containing DNA material from both Zschäpe and Böhnhardt, as well as two socks with Zschäpe’s DNA. This makes it seem possible that Zschäpe was in the vehicle. One witness who has not yet testified in court has stated in her police interview that on the day before the bank robbery in Eisenach, she had seen a mobile home with a woman who looked like Zschäpe.

The findings of the expert witness also support the statement by victims’ counsel that the NSU consisted not only of a small group of three persons, but was rather part of a network of active Nazis. There were items of clothing with DNA material from both Susan Eminger and Zschäpe, a child of André and Susan Eminger’s was likely present in the trio’s apartment, at least one further child who is not related to the accused or the other known supporters was in contact with them. Several cigarette butts found in the basement of the Frühlingsstraße contained DNA of a further unknown woman. A revolver and a hand grenade found in the mobile home also contained evidence of having been touched by at least one as yet unknown person.

Finally, the notes and maps detailing attempts to scout out potential murder victims also contained DNA of further unknown persons, this is especially so for the notes concerning Kassel, where Halit Yozgat was killed in 2006. This makes it seem likely that further supporters were involved in scouting out victims. So far, however, all attempts by victims’ counsel to hear evidence concerning potential NSU contacts to other armed Nazi groups, particularly in Dortmund and Kassel, have been rejected.

The findings on jogging pants found in the Frühlingsstraße allow a view into the psyche of Uwe Mundlos. Mundlos had most likely worn those pants as his DNA was found both on the pants as well as on handkerchiefs found in its pockets. Blood splatters found on the outside of the pant legs contained the DNA of murdered police officer Michele Kiesewetter, which shows that the pants were worn to commit the murder in Heilbronn. The expert witness stated that, given the way the pants looked and the quality of the DNA material, it is most likely that these pants had not been washed after the crime. Of course, there is no way to conclusively prove that Mundlos kept them as a sort of trophy – but it becomes clear once more that the group did nothing to try to get rid of potential evidence, instead kept many items deriving from their crimes which were of no practical use to them.

By contrast, the DVDs with the video in which the NSU claimed responsibility for its crimes hardly contained any DNA material, here it seems that the trio likely was generally rather careful.

Generally speaking, Böhnhardt, Mundlos, Zschäpe and their co-perpetrators seem to have felt rather safe and unafraid of being uncovered.