9 February 2017

The Zschäpe defense finally begins its questioning of the expert witness – and gets nowhere

Today the court rejected the motion for reconsideration brought yesterday by the Zschäpe defense. Defense counsel Heer, Stahl and Sturm – after a trial break for internal consultations – moved for a further 2 ½ hour interruption in order to prepare a challenge against the judges for alleged bias. However, such a challenge can only be brought by the accused herself, not by counsel against her – and when asked by the presiding judge whether she had been informed of the planned challenge by her counsel, Zschäpe answered that she had not.

After the lunch break, althought Zschäpe announced that things had not changed on her side, but Heer, Stahl and Sturm nonetheless upheld their motion. This motion was then rejected by the court, and counsel did not in fact bring their challenge.

Thus began the questioning of the expert by defense counsel, first by Anja Sturm, then by her colleague Wolfgang Stahl. This did not uncover anything that would raise doubts concerning the scientific credentials of the expert witness or the validity of his opinion. Of course, neither did the defense do a good job in questioning Saß – to give just one example, when discussing an academic article written by Saß and his academic student Habermeyer laying down the scientific basis for Saß’ expert opinion, counsel Stahl casually announced that he had of course never read “that paper with Habermas”. The height of this embarrassing spectacle was reached when psychiatrist Saß had to school lawyer Stahl in some of the legal basics, such as the time horizon for his expert opinion – a piece of information clearly spelled out in the text of the applicable statute.

The questioning of Saß will be continued next Tuesday and/or Wednesday.