25 July 2017

Federal prosecution’s closing statement: for that which must not, cannot be.

And: full transcript of today’s statement to be published here

The trial day began as expected and then rather unexpectedly saw the start of the prosecution’s closing statement. The court first pronounced its decision denying the repeated defense motions that the closing statement be recorded. The defense requested an extended break, but did not in fact bring any further motions after the break. It seems that they shied away from another obviously meritless challenge for alleged bias, which also would have rendered them unable to use the summer break to prepare they answer to the prosecution’s statement.

Prosecutor Dr. Diemer gave a short introduction to the closing statement, which in a few minutes presented the frame– both in a legal and in a political sense – for the in-depth statements to be presented by his two colleagues Greger and Weingarten. The main thrust of the closing statement is identified by the following quotes from Diemer:

“No reasons have arisen to believe that state organs were in any way involved in the crimes. Had they arisen, they would have been followed and elucidated following established legal procedures..”

“The issue of further supporters [of the NSU] – assuming a sufficient factual basis exists to believe that there were such supporters – must be dealt with in separate investigations. It cannot be made part of the subject of this trial, the subject matter of which was delineated by the indictment. “

“Any claims to the contrary will lead to insecurity and confusion on the part of the victims and the general populace.”

“The evidence presented in the trial has confirmed the indictment concerning all five accused in all relevant aspects as concerns both actus reus and mens rea.”

Accordingly, one can expect the prosecution to simply ignore all evidence deviating from its hypothesis, and to hew closely to the line fixed in 2012, namely that the NSU consisted only of Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe, who acted in isolation from the larger scene and whose few supporters only acted out of a feeling of obligation towards old friends.

Diemer did announce at least that the indictment had been confirmed and will accordingly seek the conviction of all accused.

As to the motivation for the crimes, Diemer declared:

„Enver Şimşek, Abdurrahim Özüdoğru, Süleyman Taşköprü, Habil Kılıç, Yunus Turgut, İsmail Yaşar, Theodoros Boulgarides, Mehmet Kubaşık and Halit Yozgat […] were assassinated by Beate Zschäpe and her co-perpetrators because they had foreign roots and thus in the eyes of their killers did not have a right to be in Germany. They were killed in order to deter other persons from coming to Germany, to compel other citizens with foreign roots to leave Germany. That these persons became victims had nothing to do with any criminological or sociological predisposition on their part. Only the reasons given here – and nothing else – influenced the choice of victims.”

Thus Diemer could not even make this declaration, which is so important to the victims and their loved ones, without feeling compelled to insert the claim that there were no local aspects, no locally-based accomplices involved in the crimes – even though there are quite a number of reasons to believe the contrary in several cases.

Prosecutor Greger then began with her closing statement on the criminal responsibility of accused Beate Zschäpe. Her colleague Weingarten will, in his statement, deal with the other four accused.

Greger stayed strictly within the frame provided by Diemer. She first painted a picture of the personality of Beate Zschäpe, of her National Socialist and racist ideology and of her willingness to use violence to further that worldview. However, this picture was presented without any references to the political environment in which Zschäpe was active. Greger presented witness statements without going into the constellations in which Zschäpe had interacted with the witnesses, simply listing pieces of evidence without showing how they are connected. Unsurprisingly, this lead to a picture of an accused who radicalized herself, together with Böhnhardt and Mundlos and influenced by no one else – as if the political groups and networks involved simply did not have anything to do with these developments. Accordingly, Greger also claimed that neither secret service informer Tino Brandt nor the “Thuringia Home Guard” led by Brandt had any influence on Zschäpe – fully ignoring that the “Comradeship Jena” had been founded as part of the “Home Guard” and its ideology shaped by Brandt. Greger went on to describe how the NSU was founded after the three had gone underground in Chemnitz and how the robbery in Chemnitz in Jena in 1998 was its first crime –leaving out the fact that at that time Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos were not only financially supported by, but also engaged in political cooperation and debates with Blood and Honour Saxony. She also neglected to mention that witnesses had seen three perpetrators at the scene of this first robbery, i.e. that one supporter very likely took part in this crime – here the prosecution claim is already massively contradicted by the evidence at this early point.

Greger will continue her statement over the course of the next two days.

We will publish a full transcript (in the German language) of today’s closing statement. This transcript was produced by several victims’ counsel, whom we would like to thank for their work. As soon as the transcript is finalized, we will publish it and link to it here.