1 December 2016

Zschäpe’s statements shown to be implausible. And: is the court starting to conduct the trial speedily?

Today, the court first heard two more federal criminal police detectives concerning an aspect of Zschäpe’s in-court statement: Zschäpe had commented on a bet with Böhnhardt in 2005 in which she had wagered “200 cuts of video clips”, claiming that this did not mean work on the “Pink Panther” video with which the NSU claimed responsibility for its crimes, but rather the removal of advertisements from recordings of TV series.

Both detectives confirmed what their colleague had already stated on Tuesday: There was no evidence pointing to the presence in the NSU apartment of a device which could have facilitated the removal of ads in the way described by Zschäpe, above all not of a video recorder containing a hard drive – Zschäpe, however, had twice referred to “our hard drive recorder” and “the hard drive in our recorder”. While there is no irrefutable proof that Zschäpe did in fact work on the Pink Panther video, the court is surely allowed to draw adverse conclusions from the fact that her statement on what she had done instead is far from plausible, as well as the fact that she has refused to answer questions on this issue.

Defense counsel Grasel announced another defense statement on questions by the court for next Thursday. The presiding judge stated that he was planning to have expert witness Henning Saß give his expert opinion on Zschäpe’s state of mind and future dangerousness on 20 and 21 December. He also asked all parties to bring any remaining motions for evidence soon.

These announcements led to protest from Zschäpe’s assigned counsel, who reported that they had employed “expert help” in deal with Saß’ preliminary written expert opinion – this likely means that they have commissioned a competing expert opinion – and that they did not expect to be finished with this process this year. It quickly became clear that presiding judge Götzl is not very willing to give the defense additional time: he canceled the trial days next Tuesday and Wednesday “to give the defense more time to prepare”, in spite of the fact that counsel Stahl had announced that this would not help much as it was not counsel, but their outside expert who needed more time.

The next weeks will show to what extent the court will actually speed up the trial.

The Wohlleben defense brought another, again rather sloppily reasoned, motion for release from pretrial detention, based inter alia on the less than speedy way the court has conducted the trial recently. They also moved for an expert opinion on the believability of the statements of accused Carsten Schultze, which are very very incriminating to Wohlleben. This motion, as well, is far from persuasive, the defense seems to be trying to throw mud at Schultze and see what sticks.

Unsurprisingly, the court rejected the propaganda motions by the Wohlleben defense concerning Hitler deputy Rudolf Hess (see the reports of 13 October and 23 November 2016), stating that it was not planning to base its judgment, which will concern itself with Wohlleben’s acts and mens rea in 1999/2000, on the Hess stickers found in Wohlleben’s apartment in 2011 anyway. Of course, it won’t have to anyway as Wohlleben had even taken part in Hess marches in the late 1990s, showing his ideological leanings at the time much more clearly than a sticker from 2011 ever could.

The federal prosecution moved that the motion by victims’ counsel for the Yozgat family concerning a case of likely perjury by a secret service officer from Brandenburg (see the report of [link] 16 November 2016) be rejected – victims’ counsel announced that they will likely reply next week.

The trial will continue next Thursday.