3 May 2017

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. Next Grasel announced that the defense would only give out the written opinion after Bauer’s oral presentation, but Bauer himself, when asked by the presiding judge, was willing to pass out the written opinion first – which led to another break for photocopying, this one lasting an hour.

Bauer then largely read out his written opinion, with only occasional insertions, many of which consisted of reaffirmation of the scientific rigor of his course of action.

However, it quickly became clear that this is not an objective expert opinion presented from an observer’s perspective, but rather partial statement from the point of view of an attending physician, hewing very close to the presentations of Zschäpe and her defense counsel. This led to Bauer even stressing aspects which he himself later disproves: he claims several times that Zschäpe never used her young age to exculpate herself – and then quotes her as saying that in her youth, she had been “caught in a maelstrom, one can really call it that”.

Bauer believes Zschäpe’s statements on what happened in its entirety, believes that he does so after a critical and scientific examination of these statements – but he does not even critically examine obvious gaps and contradictions in these statements. Thus, he states on the one hand that Zschäpe had wanted to spend every waking minute with Böhnhardt, that this was one of the main symptoms of her dependent personality disorder – but at the same time he also believes Zschäpe’s statements that she had spent whole days outside the apartment after having been told of the murders by the two men as she had not wanted to have anything to do with them. Bauer also takes as fact Zschäpe’s statements that Böhnhardt had often severely beaten her, of massive blows to the head and kicks in the back – but does not ask the question why none of the housemates, who considered Zschäpe a.k.a. “Liese” as a close friend, had ever talked about such abuse, not even as something not openly talked about, but whispered behind closed doors. If there had been such talks of potential abuse, these housemates would surely have mentioned them in their statements to the police and the court given that this could only be positive for their dear friend “Liese”.

This naïve orientation of Bauer’s report according to Zschäpe’s own statements is furthered by several methodological gaps: Bauer’s opinion is based on very few witness statements selected by the defense counsel, statements originating solely from persons close to Zschäpe who have shown that they are trying to protect her with their statement. Bauer has no clue of the other evidence heard in court, which leads him to even believe claims made by Zschäpe which have already been disproven in court, e.g. as concerns the garage in Jena (see the report of [link] 26 January 2017 on the motion for evidence presented by victims’ counsel – that motion was later withdrawn after the prosecution had referred to earlier statements by police witnesses that had already proven the facts contained in the motion).

It is therefore not surprising that even Bauer’s presentation of the decisive biographical facts concerning Zschäpe’s romantic relationships is lacking very relevant aspects – simply because Zschäpe failed to mention them. Thus Bauer presents Zschäpe’s relationship to Böhnhardt as the last in a series of relationships manifesting her dependant personality and considers all later facts through the lens of this relationship and of Zschäpe’s fear of losing Böhnhardt, who had already once ended the relationship in 1996. He omits to even mention the statement by Blood and Honour activist Thomas Starke according to which he had had a romantic relationship with Zschäpe in 1996/1997, which had however been ended by Zschäpe, who had earlier criticized Bllod and Honour as insufficiently political, since she had only thought about the two Uwes and politics (see the report of [link] 2 April 2014).

His opinion culminated in statements on Zschäpe’s political statements which are at best extremely naïve: Bauer is favorably impresses that Zschäpe told him without having to be pressed that “we were enraged about the influx of foreigners even though we in Jena did not have a problem with that” – adding another quote according to which “one knew what it was like in the West of Germany and one knew that one did not want such conditions here” – which can only be read to imply that “that”, namely the “influx of foreigners”, had in the West led to “problems” which would justify the racist statements of the “Comradeship Jena”.

In short: the court will not base anything on this expert opinion. It is hardly surprising that even counsel Heer and Stahl seemed rather amused when reading Bauer’s written opinion.

The court asked Bauer to appear once more on 18 May in order to answer questions.

The court then rejected the remaining open motion for evidence presented by the Wohlleben defense, after which the presiding judge announced that the trial days tomorrow and next week will be cancelled as there is no remaining program for these days. The trial will continue on 16 May with questions to Prof. Faustmann (see the report of [link] 27 April 2017). Victims’ counsel for the Yozgat family have announced that they will summon their expert witness on what secret service officer Temme perceived at the crime scene in Kassel for 17 May (see the report of [link] 5 April 2017). 17 May also marks the end of the deadline for further motions for evidence (see the report of [link] 25 April 2017) – whether the court will succeed in its plan of ending the taking of evidence soon or whether further motions will be made remains to be seen.