5 July 2017

More blocking and denying. And: Trial day tomorrow canceled.

Today’s trial again did not reveal much of any interest, but once again showed that the focus of the trial is much too narrow:

On the one hand, the federal prosecution remained true to its program of preventing all elucidation of the role of secret services and the Nazi network surrounding the NSU. Referring to press reports according to which an informer of the Hessian domestic secret service had talked about an organization called “National Socialist Underground Fighters” already in 1999, counsel for the Yozgat family had moved that his contact officer (to be named by the service) be heard as a witness and that the service’s files be consulted – after all, there is  a clear possibility that he referred to the organization later known as “National Socialist Underground”, and that this is of significance for the trial. Not so for prosecutor Weingarten, who seemed to have no doubts at all that the largely matching names could only be coincidental and that in any event, informer’s reports on the NSU in 1999 were wholly devoid of significance for the trial. Weingarten tried to make up for the lack of logic in his statement by doubling down on arrogant besides directed at the applicant counsel. The court has not yet decided on the motion, but given its tendency to refuse all attempts of any further elucidation in this direction, it seems likely that it will reject this motion as well.

On the other hand, the court spent more time on the more and more absurd attempts by Zschäpe counsel Grasel to patch up the apparent gaps and contradictions in Zschäpe’s statement. Today, this concerned a Chemnitz apartment in which the NSU core trio had lived in 1999 and in which, according to Zschäpe, Böhnhardt had built the bomb used in the Probsteigasse attack. Zschäpe had claimed not to have noticed anything as Böhnhardt had done so in his own bedroom. Victims’ counsel Reinecke had drawn the attention of the court to the fact that one of the three rooms in the apartment had been situated between the hallway and the kitchen and that thus only two rooms could have been used as personal bedrooms. Zschäpe’s – or rather Grasel’s – explanation: they had split one room into two by way of a dividing wall.

However, as Reinecke pointed out, the minutes drawn up by the landlord at the end of the rental did not make any note of such a wall or of any remains. Zschäpe’s – or rather Grasel’s – first reaction was silence, followed later by the claim that it had been a “light dividing wall” – whatever that is supposed to mean. In order to review this claim, the court today questioned the staff member of the landlord company who had drawn up the minutes back then. Of course, a decade and a half after the fact, this witness did not remember anything. She did, however, confirm the statements in the minutes. Grasel also submitted a ground plan of the apartment in which the alleged dividing wall was marked – with a line clearly drawn by computer and thus once more not by Zschäpe herself. According to this plan, the alleged wall would have split a 9 sq.m. (90 sq.ft.) room into two 4.5 sq.m. (45 sq.ft.) rooms, of which Zschäpe’s would have had neither natural light nor a radiator. Thus the persistent questions by victims’ counsel, who have questioned the few aspects of Zschäpe’s statement that are actually verifiable, have once more shown that Zschäpe’s statement is not worth the paper it is printed on.

There has not yet been a decision on the challenge for alleged bias brought against the court last week. Accordingly, the court had no other option but to cancel the trial day tomorrow. The trial will continue next Tuesday. The program for next week is not known at this point.