8 December 2015

Zschäpe’s statement postponed again, now expected for tomorrow

The statement by Beate Zschäpe had been expected to be read out today. However, it was again postponed, this time until tomorrow.

Her counsel Borchert had told the court yesterday that Zschäpe was not feeling well as she had suffered a nervous breakdown after her cell had been searched. He asked that her statement be postponed until Wednesday and announced that he would not take part in the trial today. Today, Zschäpe told the presiding judge that she was feeling well. Her counsel Grasel announced that the statement would nonetheless only be read out tomorrow. As to questions by the court, he wished that those be put in writing, they would be answered in writing as well. Referring to the “intense strain” that Zschäpe would feel after her statement, he asked that the court cancel the trial day on Thursday.

It almost seems like the court has ceded control over the day-to-day functioning of the trial to Zschäpe. Of course it is understandable that the court does – and accepts – a lot to make sure that Zschäpe’s silence is broken. On the other hand, it cannot be accepted that it also allows her to dictate the method of questioning. If the questioning of the accused by the court is to meaningful, it must consist of a communicative process, thus “questioning” by written questions and written answer simply cannot work. Accordingly, the court must make sure the accused understands that she needs to make a decision: either she has additional information to relate, in that case she needs to answer questions in person and in court. Or she continues to remain silent. The credibility of a written statement is rather limited in any event. What has become clear is that Zschäpe’s new defense attorneys are also trying to remain in control of her statements.

For some general ideas about the announced statements by accused Zschäpe and Wohlleben, see the blog post by victims’ counsel Eberhard Reinecke (in German).

Meanwhile, the Wohlleben defense has announced that Wohlleben will make a statement, but not this week. His three attorneys had recently sent out a press release, which included the statement that Wohlleben “has remained true to his ideals and political convictions and will continue to do so”. The press release was entitled “Der Wahrheit eine Gasse” (roughly: “Making Way for the Truth”) – a title previously used by a number of historical and current National Socialists, as reported by NSU Watch (in German).

Today, the court heard testimony by a police officer concerning railway customer cards used by Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe. The card for Böhnhardt had been issued under the name André Eminger, that for Zschäpe under the name Susan Eminger. Costs had been charged to bank accounts used by the Emingers in 2010/2011.

The court also read out two articles from the fanzine “White Supremacy” published under pseudonyms – according to secret service informers, they had been authored by Mundlos. Finally, it read out some documents concerning informer “tariff” – the court still has to decide on the motion by victims’ counsel that he be called to testify (see the reports of 18 March 2014 and 20 October 2015).
Everybody – most of all the press – now expects that Zschäpe’s statement will finally be read out tomorrow.