31 August 2017

Activists protest in the courtroom. And: closing argument concerning Eminger and Gerlach: the federal prosecution discovers the importance of ideology

The trial day began with a protest in the courtroom: before prosecutor Weingarten could continue the prosecution’s closing statement, activists of the tribunal “dissolving the NSU complex” began reading out parts of the tribunal’s own indictment concerning the federal prosecution and throwing down tiny leaflets with the names of those indicted before the tribunal. The presiding judge interrupted the trial session and the court left the courtroom, there were no sanctions against the activists, who continued their protest in front of the court building for the rest of the day.

Meanwhile the prosecution continued its closing statements, beginning with the part concerning accused Eminger. Weingarten first detailed the acts for which Eminger is accused, namely renting three vehicles for Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos which the latter used by bank robberies and the bombing attack in the Probsteigasse in Cologne, providing them with two frequent traveler’s cards for the German rail service and paying for those, and appearing with Zschäpe when she was summoned as a witness in proceedings concerning damages in the house in which the NSU had rented an apartment and allowing her to use the identity of his wife in order to safeguard the NSU’s secrecy.

Weingarten spent quite some on proving that Eminger had acted with the requisite mens rea, i.e. that he had known the results of his acts. This was rather easy to do concerning the bank robberies as Eminger knew from the beginning that Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt had a lot of money, but no legal source of income and that they were armed. Concerning the bombing attack in the Probsteigasse, Weingarten did what he had always fought against both in the investigation and the trial: he referred to the ideological consensus between Eminger and the NSU in order to prove that his acts of support over the years were politically motivated and included the perpetration of very severe crimes against “foreigners”.

And there were many points of consensus indeed: the “White Brotherhood in the Iron Mountains” led by Eminger and his brother Mike published massive calls for violence against inter alia “foreigners” and paid homage to American group “The Order” which had also gone underground und committed murders  as well as bank robberies and sent part of the money from those robberies to other Nazi groups, just as the NSU did as well. After the NSU had uncovered itself, Eminger deleted from his computer a file containing the Turner diaries, a book with a cult following in the international scene, apparently knowing that it contained a blueprint for the NSU’s crimes.

Eminger’s body and his apartment also clearly show his ideology: a large tattoo across his stomach reads “Die Jew die“, other tattoos show symbols of Nazi organizations. In a search of his apartment in 2012, police found  a “painting” of Böhnhardt and Mundlos together with the rune for “death” and the word “unforgotten” – an homage which Weingarten correctly identified as “confession-like”. He thus correctly summarized that there are no doubts that Eminger was privy to the NSU’s activities and fully knew who and what he was supporting. This proves the mens rea for aiding and abetting – there was, however, Weingarten added, no evidence proving that Eminger was a co-perpetrator of these crimes or a member of the NSU.

This is probably all true. However, it remains a secret why the federal prosecution has not indicted other supporters for whom this is all true as well, such as Eminger’s wife Susan. And generally speaking, one could not help but gain the impression that, if the prosecution had conducted the investigation in the way in which Weingarten held his closing argument today, many more details concerning the NSU would have been uncovered.

Weingarten next considered accused Gerlach. He had once transported the pistol to the three who had gone underground, however this crime was time-barred, especially as it is unclear whether the weapon had been used in any crimes. He had also given his passport to Uwe Böhnhardt in 2004, followed by a driver’s license in his name for Böhnhardt and another passport in 2011. Weingarten did not see any doubt concerning mens rea, referring to the long years of political activities Gerlach had shared with the NSU core trio, to discussions about “armed struggle” in which Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe were the “hardliners”. In addition, Gerlach had known that the crimes committed by the core trio before going underground had become time-barred so that there was no other reason for staying underground than the commitment to commit additional, terrorist crimes. Thus Gerlach had known that his acts of support not only supported the mere living in the underground, but that Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt were now committing the actions discussed in the 1990s and that he was supporting them in doing so.

The closing statement concerning Gerlach will continue tomorrow, followed by a statement on the robberies committed by the NSU. It is likely that the prosecutions’ closing statement will finish in the next trial week on Tuesday, 12 September 2017.