19 July 2017

Closing arguments postponed until next Tuesday

Several family members of victims of the NSU murders had made it to the courtroom in Munich, even if they had only been informed of the beginning of the closing arguments yesterday. However, they were not able to witness the beginning of these arguments, which instead were postponed until next Tuesday:

This morning, the court rejected the defense motion that the closing arguments be recorded. The defense first asked for an extended interruption in the trial and then brought a motion for reconsideration. This was followed by an extended debate between the court and several defense counsel, which ended with presiding judge Götzl announcing that the court will have to decide on the motion for reconsideration and that the trial will continue next Tuesday.

It is not easy to comment on the discussions today: on the one hand, victims and their counsel too would prefer for the closing arguments to be recorded – first of all simply because there is no reason why court proceedings should not be recorded – or at least verbatim minutes prepared – in the 21st century. In addition, it is not entirely unheard of that court proceedings in trials of historical significance are recorded – and even later publicized: this was done, e.g., in the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial. On the other, the whingeing of ten professional defense attorneys who present themselves as unable to understand and lay down the prosecution’s closing arguments, or even to find someone to take notes for them, is simply undignified and does not help anybody either.

Of course, the court’s reaction, its decision to simply cancel tomorro’s trial day, is also hard to understand. One possible reason is that the court wanted to give the prosecution an opportunity to consider alternatives, such as providing the parties with a copy of the written manuscript for its closing arguments.