25 February 2016

Wohlleben to remain in detention (unsurprisingly), and: additional trial days until January 2017.

Today the court was to hear two witnesses concerning robberies of post offices conducted by the NSU in October of 1999.

First, however, the trial was again interrupted upon motion by the Wohlleben defense. The court had decided yesterday that Wohlleben is to remain in detention as there remains a “strong suspicion” against him even after his statements in court, as the court found his claims that he had not known what Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe would do with the gun provided by him and Schultze to be unbelievable. A well-reasoned decision which of course also means that Wohlleben is facing a conviction – reason enough for the defense to again challenge all judges for alleged bias.

Their challenge is largely based on the fact that the court mentions in its decision the fact that Wohlleben had only decided to make a statement after the trial had been going on for a long time – the defense understands this section to mean that the court is drawing adverse inferences from his initial decision to remain silent, which would be a violation of the right to remain silent. However, the court does not draw such inferences either explicitly or implicitly in its decision, but simply mentions the procedural circumstances surrounding Wohlleben’s statement. Accordingly, this challenge too will be declared without merit.

The court continued the trial and heard the witnesses after the lunch break. These witnesses reported on the two robberies – the second and third of the known crimes, which developed in a similar manner to the later robberies. The main difference was that the two perpetrators fled not on bikes, but on – likely stolen – motorbikes.

The court also passed out a list of planned additional trial days up to January 2017. This was to expected given the speed at which the trial had moved along in the last weeks, which did not make it seem likely that the court will reach a judgment by August 2016. Contrary to some press reports, events in the courtroom do not raise the impression that the court is rushing to finish the trial soon: its decisions denying motions for evidence by victims’ counsel show that it is not interested in further elucidation of the facts surrounding the NSU, but nonetheless the court is mostly standing still – most trial days end around noon, and have since roughly the summer of 2015. At first it seemed that the court was only awaiting the statements of accused Zschäpe and Wohlleben. However, these have now been made (with the exception of a few additional statements by accuses Zschäpe). It is unclear what the court is waiting for now.