30 March 2017

One marches over the cuckoo’s nest – psycho motion by the Zschäpe defense.

The high point – rather: the low point – of this trial day was marked by a motion of Zschäpe defense counsel Grasel, who moved that psychiatrist Prof. Bauer, who had visited Zschäpe on four days in detention, be heard as an expert witness to prove that due to a “severe dependent personality disorder”, Zschäpe suffered from diminished responsibility at all relevant times. Grasel added that Bauer was able to appear in court next Thursday.

This motion is the logical end point of Borchert’s and Grasel’s trial strategy, which tries to present Zschäpe as unknowing, passive – and now also: dependent – appendage to Böhnhardt and Mundlos. So far, this strategy has clearly not borne fruit, and accordingly the defense now announces that Bauer will report what Zschäpe had told him about “continuing severe bodily assaults by Uwe Böhnhardt” – no word on why anybody should believe such stories after Zschäpe had not talked about such assaults in the year-long game of written questions and answers with the court.

The motion is thus rather unlikely to succeed – in fact, one may ask whether it is really made in earnest – after all, if Zschäpe is convicted of ten murders and several other violent crimes and is found to have been of diminished responsibility due to mental illness, this may well lead the court to sentence her to a lengthy prison sentence and additionally order her commitment in a psychiatric hospital – unclear whether this is a result Zschäpe would prefer over life imprisonment or whether her counsel have in fact made her aware of this danger. On the other hand, from the point of view of the NSU’s victims and their counsel, these questions are of course not all that relevant.

It remains to be seen how the court will react to this motion: on the one hand, the presiding judge has shown so far that he is very interested in all of Zschäpe’s statements on the facts of the case, which would make it seem likely that they will wish to hear Prof. Bauer. On the other hand, expert witness Prof. Saß has already provided an extensive expert opinion on Zschäpe, including on any reasons for dimished responsibility, finding that there are no such reasons. One way to convincingly deal with the issue would be to do as proposed by victim’s counsel Doris Dierbach: the court could hear Prof. Bauer as a witness on what Zschäpe had related to him and then ask Prof. Saß to comment on the relevance of these statements, if any, on his expert opinion.

In other news, the Wohlleben defense brought another challenge for alleged bias against the judges who had yesterday rejected Wohlleben’s challenge against the presiding judge and another judge. Today’s challenge was based on an alleged lack of impartiality which would be gleamed from the reasoning of yesterday’s decision – another instance of “much ado about nothing”.

There are three more trial days next week before the court goes on a two-week break over Easter. It will likely be clear by next week whether the court will wish to hear Prof. Bauer.