13 January 2016

Wohllebens attempts to deny the charges leads him to a partial admission of guilt.

Today accused Wohlleben was questioned by the court. On 16 December 2015, Wohlleben had read out a prepared statement and announced that he would answer questions (see the report of [link] 16 December 2015). Presiding judge Götzl questioned Wohlleben until 2.30 pm, when the trial day was adjourned as counsel Klemke had announced that Wohlleben was suffering from back pain and headaches and was unable to concentrate. Klemke’s intervention came shortly after Wohlleben had seriously painted himself into a corner in answering questions concerning the Ceska murder weapon.

But back to the beginning: The presiding judge largely limited himself to asking questions to clear up issues in the statement read out by Wohlleben that remained unclear. In the morning, the main topic was the political vita of Wohlleben, the “Comradeship Jena”, the “Thuringia Home Guard” etc. Wohlleben was surprisingly restrained as far as propaganda statement were concerned, mostly tried to present the activities of the various Nazi groups as unspectacular and strictly non-violent. However, the Nazi propagandist Wohlleben could still be glimpsed, e.g., when he was asked about the program of the “Nationalist Resistance Jena”, the successor group to the “Comradeship Jena”, and answered by reading out that group’s program statement and issuing revisionist statements on the bombardment of Dresden.

Towards the afternoon, the presiding judge began asking questions concerning the core issue, namely the provision of the Ceska murder weapon to Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt, the act for which Wohlleben has been indicted. After having first stressed that he had not wanted to provide a gun at all and had tried to stall the “Three”, he began admitting more and more parts of the actus reus of which he is accused: Böhnhardt had told him to ask for a gun in the scene shop “Madleys”, quite possible that he had told accused Schultze that, quite possible that he had told Schultze to say he had been sent by him, Wohlleben. And yes, he had had a look at the gun together with Schultze, had screwed the silencer onto the gun – but had considered it nothing special, a “gimmick”, a simple piece of equipment.

The objective facts confirmed by Wohlleben are very close to those given in Schultze’s statement, according to which Schultze had been sent to the Madleys shop by Wohlleben, had received the gun there, and had brought it to Wohlleben, who had then sent him to give it to the “Three”.

Wohlleben continues to deny any knowledge of what would happen with the gun, claiming that he had thought Böhnhardt was simply planning to kill himself. Wohlleben claims that he had not talked about this with Schultze or anyone else as the suicide of a friend was an unwelcome topic. Of course, the statement of an accused which is given on 251st trial day, after most of the evidence has been heard, is hard to believe anyway – even more so when it is based on simply denial of responsibility and when there is no conceivable tactical reason why the statement could not have been given on the first trial day or even directly after Wohlleben’s arrest. Add to this the fact that the main thrust of that statement is based on the claim made by Zschäpe two days earlier that Böhnhardt had planned to kill himself, and it becomes quite hard to take that statement serious at all. Wohlleben’s defense seems to be based on an attempt to take the court for a fool.

Questioning by the court and, if time allows, the parties will continue tomorrow. It remains to be seen whether Wohlleben or his defense will try to “take back” today’s statement.