9 November 2016

Defense continues to block the proceedings, and another witness without any depth.

The entire trial day was taken up by a witness from Jena who had been friends with Wohlleben as well as with Zschäpe, Mundlos, Böhnhardt before they went underground. The witness had started his drive to Munich late and had also gotten lost on the way, which lead to his testimony not starting until after the lunch break. The time until then could have been used to read out some documents the court intended to introduce into evidence, but the Wohlleben defense objected and the court found itself unable to decide on that objection immediately.

The presiding judge then asked whether expert witness Prof. Saß could give his oral expert opinion on Beate Zschäpe next week. This again was objected to by Zschäpe’s assigned counsel, who stated that they needed additional time to consult Saß’ written opinion, without giving any indication as to when they expect to be finished. Thus the a.m. court session was once again entirely wasted.

The witness was finally heard after lunch. Background to his being summoned is that in the NSU apartment in the Frühlingsstraße, a mobile phone was found on which an exchange of text messages from the summer of 2000 could be reconstructed – a complaint that “one never hears from Ebi anymore” was answered with a text indicating that he had “promised to call at 9 pm if he can make it”. The nickname “Ebi” fits the last name of today’s witness. Further indications that he may have helped the three who had gone underground include his opening a PO box in his own name on behalf of Ralf Wohlleben already in the mid-1990s, his having lived with Wohlleben in 1999 and his having made detailed statements concerning Wohlleben in two interviews with the German military secret service (of which only the minutes of the second are still existing).

His questioning lead to a déjà vu of other Nazi witness testimonies. He claimed that, as he had earned decent money back then, he often given his mobile phone to friends, maybe including Wohlleben. Wohlleben had been a decent man always there for his friends. Nonetheless, there had never been any discussions about the three who had gone underground, not with Wohlleben, not with others from Jena – a statement which many found hard to believe and which led federal prosecution counsel Weingarten to question the witness quite extensively, likely in order to have him state his lies clearly and thus increase the chance of successful perjury proceedings.

The witness often tried to rely on claimed memory gaps, but slipped several times and contradicted himself. Interestingly, he stated that he is a regular participant at Nazi demonstrations to this day – and thus likely still feels a kinship to Wohlleben. He also reported that there was another person from Jena called “Ebi” or “Ebbi”.

At the end of his questioning, the witness was unwilling to clearly answer the question whether he had worked as an informer – first trying to deflate questions with stupid puns (e.g. stating that maybe “VP”, a common abbreviation of “Vertrauensperson”, i.e. confidential informant, stood for “volkseigener Petrieb”, a willful mispronunciation of “volkseigener Betrieb”, i.e. state-owned companies in the German Democratic Republic), then stating that he had signed so many papers that he did not know whether one of them had been an undertaking to work as a CI. Maybe here the witness finally developed fears of perjuring himself, but still did not want to admit having worked as an informer – not for the military secret service, but for its civilian equivalent in Thuringia or elsewhere.