27 April 2017

The “critique of methodology” presented by expert witness Prof. Faustmann

The heated discussions of the last days about whether expert witness Prof. Faustmann, who had been summoned by Zschäpe’s assigned counsel, would be heard or not, discussions which led to many speculations, turned out to be a tempest in a teapot. This morning, presiding judge Götzl did not reference these discussions at all, instead simply asking Prof. Faustmann to take the witness stand and present his expert opinion.

Faustmann then read out his opinion, which had already been passed out to the parties with the defense motion on Tuesday. He was not asked questions on his opinion today, instead the presiding judge notified the parties that Prof. Faustmann would be summoned again for 16 May so that questions may be asked then.

The “showdown” between experts that had been awaited by some thus did not happen today. Of course, it is generally not to be expected that Faustmann’s critique will raise any doubts in the mind of the court concerning the expert opinion presented by Prof. Saß. Of course, Faustmann found a number of parts in Saß’ opinion which seem methodologically unclear, and of course “prognostic expert opinions” presented in court – opinions which Faustmann himself has also presented in many other cases – can be seen very critically and deemed pseudo-scientific in some ways. However, based on the standards used in court cases, it seems very doubtful that Faustmann will succeed in challenging Saß – the very dry presentation today, at least, did not succeed in doing so.

Leaving aside the content of the opinion, the rather unspectacular beginning of today’s trial day makes yesterday’s theatrics seem all the more absurd. With the goal of a speedy trial in mind, nothing would have stood in the way of simply hearing Faustmann’s opinion yesterday.