Challenge for alleged bias and begin of the break over Pentecost
Today the Wohlleben defense brought their challenge for alleged bias against all judges, based on yesterday’s decisions rejecting their motions for evidence.
The court will have a lot of time to reject this challenge as unfounded – the trial day tomorrow has been canceled, the trial will continue, after a two-week break over Pentecost, on Tuesday, 20 June. The court has not yet announced a program for the week of 20-22 June.
Last steps before the end of the taking of evidence.
Beate Zschäpe’s mother again refused to testify in court, but gave her consent that her earlier police statement from 2011 be considered by the court. This statement was then introduced by one of the police officers who had interviewed her. It contained above all information on Zschäpe’s childhood and youth and on the rift between mother and daughter – one important reason for which, the witness had told the police, had been Beate Zschäpe’s political ideology.
Victims’ counsel for the Yozgat family brought a challenge for bias against defense expert Prof. Bauer – Bauer had topped his embarrassing appearance in court (see our report of 18 May 2017) with an email to German daily “Die Welt”: reacting to the critical reports on his testimony, he had sent the newspaper his expert opinion and had complained about a “burning of witches” being conducted against Zschäpe. There is no need for further comment, Bauer’s derailment speaks for itself. Defense counsel Heer seemed rather amused by the challenge against the other defense counsels’ expert.
The Wohlleben defense, meanwhile, brought a motion for evidence tying in to a diagnosis Bauer had made “in passing” on Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos: Bauer had claimed that both had without a doubt been severely psychopathic perpetrators. Picking up this depoliticization of the NSU’s racist series of murders, the defense moved that a psychiatric expert be heard to prove that the two men had suffered from a psychopathic personality disorder and that this had not been visible for third persons as psychopaths are capable of manipulative behavior to disguise their disorder. This motion will remain without success.
The federal prosecution responded to the motions for evidence of last week. The head of the prosecution team Dr. Diemer himself responded to the victims’ counsel motion concerning Stefan Lange (see the report of 17 May 2017) and used the opportunity to whitewash the German secret services: he claimed that there was no reason to believe that the secret services had ever failed to pass on information to the police – quite to the contrary, he went on, information provided by these services had significantly furthered the trial in Munich. This statement obviously results from the self-image of the federal prosecution as a political office tasked above all with protecting the state and its agencies. Anyone who has followed the developments concerning the NSU complex in the last few years – the destruction of case files, the scandalous appearances by contact officers in court, the sheer number of informers in the Nazi scene surrounding the NSU core trio – can see that his statement his nothing but propaganda.
The court then considered how to deal with the critique of methodology presented by Prof Faustmann and the response announced by Prof. Saß. It decided – contrary to a defense motion – not to summon Faustmann for next Tuesday, the day on which Saß will present his response.
As to what will happen on the other two trial days next week, the presiding judge refused any comment. It seems unlikely that the court will be able to finish the taking of evidence by next week – inter alia, it will have to deal with a number of motions for evidence and will have to again consider the personal details of the accused. This last aspect will likely include a recent judgment (which is not yet final) of the Local Court in Chemnitz which last week convicted him of criminal assault and coercion for beating and kicking a teenager in Chemnitz.
Expert witness Prof. Bauer: „a character witness in the guise of a professor”
Today the court and parties questioned expert witness Prof. Bauer (on his expert opinion see the report of 3 May 2017). What was already clear after his first appearance in court became even more clear today: Bauer’s opinion is not worth the paper it is printed on.
Bauer related that he first visited Zschäpe in his capacity as a physician, only after Zschäpe had told him about alleged violent attacks by Uwe Böhnhardt and he had informed her counsel of these claims had he been tasked with presenting an expert opinion. He was of the firm opinion that he could nonetheless present an objective, neutral opinion – even after being informed that most courts consider an earlier physician-patient relationship, which is after all based on trust and partiality, an obstacle to tasking the same physician with presenting an expert opinion. Continue reading
Final motions for evidence
Today marked the final day of the deadline set by the court for motions for evidence – and several such motions were in deed made.
Zschäpe counsel Grasel moved that the court consider the minutes of the statement Zschäpe’s mother had made to the police. On her first appearance in court, her mother had refused to testify in court and had also withheld her content to the court using her earlier statement. However, after expert witness Bauer had referred to that statement in his opinion, she has now given that consent. As it was not made quite explicit whether she still refuses to testify in person, the court has summoned her as a witness for next week – it does seem likely, though, that she will refuse to testify and only confirm that she consents to her police statement being used. The court has also summoned one of the police officers who had questioned her so that he may introduce that statement. Continue reading
Questions for defense expert Prof. Faustmann
Today the court and parties questioned expert witness Prof. Faustmann, who had been summoned by Zschäpe’s “old” defense counsel Heer, Stahl and Sturm to present a “critique of methodology” of expert witness Prof. Saß.
The central critique presented by Faustmann turned out to be one aspect of Saß’ expert statement which is quite genial in its modesty: Saß stressed that psychiatry is not a natural science and that forensic psychiatry, a science tasked with presenting prognoses in individual cases, can never be free of subjective assessments and the influence of the individual knowledge of the expert witness. According to Saß, therefore, one main quality criterion for forensic psychiatric expert opinions is that they present the material in an accessible manner and that the reader – in this case the court – is able to follow and reconstruct the expert’s arguments. Continue reading
On Prof. Bauer’s expert opinion. And: no trial days until 16 May 2017
Today the court heard expert witness Prof. Bauer (Freiburg), who had been summoned by Zschäpe defense counsel Grasel and Borchert. Bauer, who is more widely known as an author of popular science books than as a forensic expert, had talked with Zschäpe over some 14 hours in detention and had authored a written expert opinion of some 50 pages in which he concludes that Zschäpe was suffering from a “severe dependent personality disorder” which led to a diminished criminal responsibility.
Before Bauer could present his opinion, the usual interruptions in the trial arose: defense counsel Heer had a pressing need for a written copy of colleague Grasel’s motion for evidence that Bauer be heard, which led to a fifteen-minute break so that the motion could be copied and passed out. Continue reading