7 October 2015

On the debate on violence within the “Kameradschaft Jena”, and on Meral K.

Yesterday, the scandal concerning private accessory prosecutor Meral K., who apparently does not exist and who was represented until last week by attorney Ralph Willms, reached the courtroom in Munich. After presiding judge Goetzl had summoned her several times and had put massive pressure on her counsel to tell the court where his client was, Willms now issued a statement in writing claiming that he was deceived and that his supposed client did not exist after all. Willms went on to claim that another private prosecutor had offered to connect him to Meral K. for a fee, which he had paid. He claimed that he had only now found out that his client did not exist and that he had pressed charged against the “broker”. According to Willms, he had not realized until now that the doctor’s note which he had sent to the court was faked.

The trial day today began with a motion by the Zschäpe defense that the judges involved in the decision allowing Meral K to join the proceedings as private accessory prosecutors issue official statements as to how this decision came about, particularly whether or when they had realized that the doctor’s note was fake. This constitutes a somewhat veiled threat to challenge the judges for alleged bias, probably arguing that they had allowed the private prosecution without sufficient scrutiny.

However, this attempt to use the scandal to attack the legitimacy of private accessory prosecutors overall and to also attack the court backfired quickly: Beate Zschäpe was visibly surprised by the motion brought by her defense counsel Heer, Sturm and Stahl. Her fourth attorney Grasel asked for a quick recess in order to discuss the motion with her and then simply stated that neither he nor Zschäpe had heard of the motion before today. Thus began a discussion between Heer and Grasel, with Heer accusing Grasel of not being sufficiently prepared for trial, while Grasel complained that Heer, Stahl and Sturm refused to meet with him or to give them their notes of earlier trial days. All in all, as counsel Heer noted, this was a spectacle that “could hardly be more lacking in dignity.”

Of course, the court will have to find out whether there a victim was indeed faked for fraudulent motives and if so, who the perpetrator is. What has become clear today is that the thorough taking of evidence by the court uncovers such attempts.

After the debates within the Zschäpe defense were over, the court heard a further witness, a founding member oft he „Kameradschaft Jena“ who had already been questioned once and had made some statements on the ideology etc. (see the report of [link] 16 September 2015).
In his police interview, the witness had reported on discussions on building up armed groups which, he had added, began after the group had watched videos on the Nazi scene in Scandinavia. He had already confirmed this statement the first time he had testified in Munich. Today he added that the videos in question had been from the series of “Kriegsberichter” videos sent out by a Blood and Honour label from Scandinavia. These videos, the witness further reported, show snippets from concerts, but also para-military training exercises involving firearms and explosives. However, he also claimed that he could not have watched these videos during his time with the “Kameradschaft” since these videos had only come out in 1997/98. Accordingly, he concluded, he must have watched them with other friends, though he was unable to say which friends. He was also unable to explain which circumstances had led to the discussion within the “Kameradschaft Jena”. He remained steadfast even when confronted with evidence that the first “Kriegsberichter” videos had in fact been released in 1996. It became clear that the witness had, for one, simply erred as far as the timing of events was concerned, and secondly that he was trying to protect himself, but above all of his former “comrades”.
This tendency also became visibly at another point in his testimony: Asked whether he had asked for deletions in the record of his police interview, he claimed that he had not. However, in those minuted, the sentence “When we discussed the question of an armed organization, we never talked about where to get guns” had been crossed out, the change marked with his initials. When confronted with these minutes, he confirmed that this change had been done “with his approval”. Apparently, back then he did not want the police to find out how often violent actions had been a topic of discussion, and today he did not want to allow that such discussions had occurred in the context of watching the “Kriegsberichter” videos.

The court will have to take steps to clear up what the witness had in fact said in his testimony.