1 September 2017

Prosecution’s closing statement almost concluded.

Today the federal prosecution concluded the main part of its closing statement – the only part remaining concerns the formal motions as well as the statements on the sentences, which prosecutor Dr. Diemer will bring on the next trial on 12 September.

Today his colleagues Greger and Weingarten summarized which crimes the accused are to be convicted of. The prosecution asked that they be convicted according to the indictment, with two slight changes in the legal characterization of the charges: as to Zschäpe, this mainy concerned the arson of the house containing the NSU apartment in the Frühlingsstraße, which according to the prosecution also fulfills the requirements for the crime of “inducing an explosion”. As to accused Eminger, the provision of two motor vehicles used in bank robberies constitutes not only aiding and abetting robbery, but aiding and abetting armed robbery, which carries a much higher sentence. The court will have to decide whether it will make a formal announcement to the accused that the charges could be thus re-characterized. 

Weingarten’s statements from yesterday concerning ideology, particularly that of André Eminger, were reflected in his statement on legal characterization today: while accused Gerlach had, objectively speaking, also aided and abetted several of the NSU murders – after all, the driver’s license provided by him had allowed the core trio to rent vehicles used in the commission of these crimes –, Gerlach did not have the requisite mens rea for aiding and abetting and thus was to be convicted “only” of supporting the terrorist organization NSU. Eminger, on the other hand, had been privy to details early on, had had a concrete idea of the crimes likely to be committed and had thus had the requisite mens rea for aiding and abetting the concrete crimes, including one count of attempted murder for renting the vehicle used for the bombing attack in the Probsteigasse in Cologne.

Whether the court will follow these conclusions concerning Eminger is to be awaited. During the investigation, the federal prosecution has, following its claim of the NSU being an isolated group of three people, not put significant energy into investigations concerning the NSU supporters in Saxony. Thus much less is known about the concrete actions of, e.g., André Eminger and his wife Susan than could be known after a proper investigation. This is the main reason that the prosecution, in order to substantiate their charged against Eminger, had to refer to ideology, an issue it had always avoided throughout the trial.

The court will have to decide whether or not the elements of proof provided by the prosecution suffice to convict Eminger of aiding and abetting the bombing attack in the Probsteigasse. If it holds that they do not, the responsibility lies with the prosecution, its mantra of the NSU as a small isolated group and its investigations built upon that mantra. However, it seems clear that Eminger will be convicted of aiding and abetting two armed robberies and supporting the terrorist organization NSU.

The trial will continue on 12 September 2017, the closing statements of victims and their counsel will likely begin on 13 September.