11 July 2017

The end of the taking of evidence is drawing closer – very slowly. 

Some parties had forecast shortly before noon today that the court would conclude the taking of evidence this week: as expected, the court had rejected two motions by victims’ counsel on the involvement of the domestic secret service and the NSU support network (see the report of 5 July 2017). As to the challenge for bias against Zschäpe expert witness Prof. Bauer (see the report of 5 July 2017), the court had held that it was well-founded – a decision not even challenged by Zschäpe defense counsel Grasel. As to the conspiracy theory motion brought by the Wohlleben defense (see the report of 29 June 2017) that domestic secret service officer Temme had fired the shots that killed Halit Yozgat in Kassel, the court had done the necessary preparations for rejecting the motion: It had heard the testimony of an expert witness from the Bavarian criminal police, who stated that the gunshot residue found on Temme’s gloves could not only have been years old at the time, but also matched several different types of ammunition. Given that Temme had been a member of a gun club, these traces thus do not have any evidentiary value. 

Thus there did not remain much to do before the court could close the taking of evidence: it had to reject the Wohlleben defense motion – a mere formality at this point – and the Zschäpe defense motion for an additional expert witness statement, and it had to quickly consider the current personal circumstances of those accused who are not in detention. It seemed realistic that the court would be able to finish this program by the end of the week.

Thus many were surprised when presiding judge Götzl announced directly after the lunch break that the trial days tomorrow and on Thursday were canceled. The trial will continue next Tuesday, 18 July 2017. It seems that the court is trying to stretch the last remains of the evidence until directly before the summer break and to hear the closing statements after the break.

The court has also announced additional dates to be reserved as trial days between January and August of 2018 – but has explicitly stressed that this was only done out of an abundance of caution and that the court sees the trial in its final stages. It thus seems unlikely that these trial days will be needed, a judgment can probably be expected by this fall.