13 September 2017

Detention order against Eminger leads to previously unseen bursts of activity from his counsel.

As expected, the court issued a detention order against Eminger as requested. Eminger will thus remain in Stadelheim prison.

The court thus held that Eminger is “strongly suspected” of all crimes he is charged with and that the expected sentence leads to a danger of absconding. In other words: the court will in all likelihood find Eminger guilty of all charges, including of aiding and abetting attempted murder for his involvement in the Probsteigasse bombing attack, and it will sentence him to a prison term that is at least in the vicinity of the twelve years requested by the prosecution.

This led to previously unseen bursts of activity from Eminger’s defense counsel Kaiser – whose colleague Hedrich had not only been absent yesterday, but had also decided not to appear today. Until the now, the defense had been extremely passive, had not brought any motions for evidence and had asked witnesses very few questions – apparently hoping that, at the end of the trial, the court would decide the evidence insufficient for conviction. This strategy has now definitely proven unsuccessful, which may lead to the defense becoming more active from now on.

Kaiser began today’s detention hearing by putting some energy into fighting for Eminger’s (real or perceived) interests – namely the interest to exclude victims’ counsel from the hearing. He was joined by defense counsel for accused Zschäpe and Wohlleben – despite the fact that any reasons for excluding victims’ counsel would apply just as much to counsel of co-accused.

The court decided to allow both victims’ counsel and counsel of co-accused to attend the hearing, referring to the close connection between the crimes Eminger is charged with and the rest of the indictment. Kaiser announced that he wanted to challenge the members of the court for alleged bias. The court, however, did not allow him to do immediately, but instead first read out the indictment order and asked the accused whether he wished to comment. As was to be expected, Eminger himself decided to remain silent, his counsel made some rather scatterbrained comments, concluding that in his view, there were “sufficient reasons to prefer public charges”, but not a “strong suspicion” against Eminger. The court will decide on these issues later in writing.

The trial day tomorrow will begin later, namely at 1 pm, as both Kaiser and defense counsel for Zschäpe and Wohlleben have announced possible challenges for alleged bias. These challenges, if brought, will likely mean that the closing statements of victims and their counsel will not begin tomorrow as the Code of Criminal Procedure requires that such challenges be resolved before closing statements can continue.

For victims who are planning to attend the closing statements, Eminger’s detention will provide tangible relief: they no longer have to fear running into this close confidant of the NSU, who carries his hatred on his body in the form of several tattoos, him in the hallway in front of the courtroom or in front of the court building. Such chance meetings had in the past led to further suffering for family members of those killed and victims of the bombing attacks.