30 November 2016

More on the NSU scouting out the synagogue – Zschäpe defense „irritated“ by taking of evidence.

Today’s trial day lasted a bit longer than yesterday’s, namely 70 minutes. In these 70 minutes, the court again dealt with a police officer who had in 2000 guarded the synagogue in the Rykestraße in Berlin and who had reported having seen Beate Zschäpe and Uwe Mundlos sitting in a café directly next to the synagogue studying city maps. After both that officer (see the report of 26 October 2016) and the detective who had interviewed him in 2000 (see the report of 23 November 2016) had generally confirmed his 2000 statement, but had not remembered all the details, the court today questioned the officer again. As announced by the presiding judge yesterday, he proceeded to read out sections of the minutes of the 2000 interview “to aid the memory of the witness”. 

Now, having presiding judge Götzl read out large parts of such minutes to witnesses is nothing new in the NSU trial – so far, however, this has only been done to aid their questioning in court, i.e. what was introduced into evidence was not the text read out, but the reaction of the witness. Reading out documents “to aid the memory of the witness”, on the other hand, leads to the document itself being entered into evidence. This shows that the court considers the statement of today’s witness as quite important and is planning to base its judgment inter alia on that statement (a statement, by the way, which was only dealt with in court based on a motion by a victims’ counsel – the police and prosecution had not even re-interviewed the witness after the self-uncovering of the NSU in 2011).

Of course, this would have made it seem prudent for the defense to at least try to keep the court from introducing this rather important incriminating evidence. However, defense counsel Stahl limited himself to noting that he was “irritated” by the way the court proceeded, but refrained from doing anything more substantive than that.

Today’s trial day ended a few minutes before 11 am. The program for tomorrow is similarly short. This shows once again that the length of the trial is not caused by motions by victims’ counsel – as is often reported –, but that the slow and cumbersome way in which the court conducts the proceedings is a rather decisive factor.