2 February 2016

Challenge for alleged bias brought by the Zschäpe defense, and questioning of Zschäpe

The trial day began with an announcement by the presiding judge that Zschäpe defense counsel Grasel had brought a challenge for alleged bias against presiding judge Götzl over the weekend, after Götzl had denied the latest motion to relieve Zschäpes old defense counsel Heer, Stahl and Sturm of their duties.

Since the reasons for the several such motions throughout the proceedings remain more or less the same, a short comment on these issues is sufficient: Götzl’s decision is based on the facts that Heer, Stahl and Sturm remain willing and able to defend Zschäpe and that the breakdown of communication within the defense is due to Zschäpe herself refusing to communicate with counsel. This is legally correct and does not show any bias on Götzl’s part, meaning that this challenge for alleged bias, too, is bound to fail.

The court will likely decide on this challenge in time for the trial to resume on Thursday, the trial day tomorrow was – once more – cancelled.

Today, the court continued the trial, first by reading out several interior secret service documents concerning accused Gerlach, Wohlleben, Eminger and Schultze. The presiding judge then posed some additional questions to accused Zschäpe – most of these concerned details of her earlier statements, but he also went beyond that frame, inter alia by asking how much André Eminger and his wife Susann had known about the NSU’s crimes. Zschäpe counsel Grasel announced that the answers would be prepared in writing and then read out. The same was true for the questions of the Schultze defense, which had been asked at an earlier date – Grasel stated that he had “missed” those, but that “I [sic!] will also answer these questions in one go.”