9 March 2017

Challenge for alleged bias by the Zschäpe defense, and: court cancels trial days, trial to continue on 23 March 2017

After the Wohlleben defense had challenged all judges for alleged bias yesterday, Zschäpe’s defense counsel Heer today read out his client’s challenge against the presiding judge. This challenge too is based largely on the deadline for further motions, seen against the background of the not very speedy way the trial was conducted in recent months.

The rest of the trial day consisted mostly of one break after another – 30 minutes for “internal consultations” of the defense teams, 25 minutes for the court to draft a decision denying a 20 minute break, and so on.

What remains: to gain time for all challenges to be considered, the court canceled the trial days on 14 to 16 March and 21/22 March 2017, the trial will continue on 23 March 2017.

It is obvious that the Wohlleben and Zschäpe defenses are not as much surprised by the deadline, but rather trying to hide the fact that they don’t have any further motions or ideas. It has been clear since at least December that the court’s program of evidence would be finalized after the expert opinion of Prof. Saß. Since then, neither the Zschäpe nor the Wohlleben defense have done anything sensible. The claimed opinion being prepared by another expert is a much ado about nothing, the Wohlleben defense mostly brought propaganda motions claiming that Hitler’s deputy Hess was murdered or on the “death of the Volk”. Today, this desperate strategy culminated in a motion on the alleged presence of FBI agents at the crime scene in Heilbronn. Two years ago, this motion might have been an interesting attempt to deal in conspiracy theories, but after Zschäpe’s statement that Böhnhardt and Mundlos had confessed this crime to her, it is simply totally pointless.

It is therefore easy to see why the court is trying to get to the end of the taking of evidence. Of course, the way the court went about achieving this goal – first rejecting several motions, some of which had been brought months ago, with rather far-fetched reasoning, then setting a one-week deadline for further motions – seems much too forceful. The questions also arises why, after several months of rather sluggish proceedings, the court is now trying to up the speed so much. One possible reason is that the parliamentary inquiry commission has finished the taking of evidence this week – maybe the court was waiting to see whether something relevant came up in Berlin before coming to a judgment in Munich.