28 November 2017

First closing statements on the Keupstraße attack: “’Operation kebap skewer’ and ‘kebap killings’ go hand in hand, not only in words!”

Today’s closing statements concerned the nail bomb attack on the Keupstraße in Cologne and the police investigation of that attack, referred to as the “bomb after the bomb” by Keupstraße victims.

Counsel Stephan Kuhn began by detailing the murderous effects of the bomb, turning then to the investigations, which from the very beginning were directed against the bombing victims in the Keupstraße. He also detailed that this orientation of the investigations was counter not only to the many explicit statements by victims that the attack must have been committed by Nazis or other xenophobes, but also against all known evidence and the results of a profiler’s findings.

Under the heading “the attack was a success”, Kuhn showed how it was the structural racism in the police agencies and the investigations influenced by that racism which only helped the racist bombing attack become fully successful.

He concluded:

„The NSU complex shows us both types [of racism] and how they relate to each other: on the one hand the individual type of racism as typified by these accused, which manifests itself in openly racist attacks and other activities directed against individuals and groups. And on the other hand the acts and failures to act of society vis-à-vis the very same minorities, acts and failures to act which flank the open form of racism and increase its power and importance.  “’Operation kebap skewer’ [the term used for the Keupstraße bomb by the NSU] and ‘kebap killings’ [the term used for the Ceska killings by police and the media] go hand in hand, not only in words!”

[…] The communication policy of police leadership and the (conscious or unconscious) everyday racism of their subordinates have objectively helped make the Keupstraße attack a success for the NSU. Both together have brought about a situation in which the victims will never feel as safe as before the attack, not in their living rooms, but also not in this state.

To change this, to bring about peace under the law, is only possible if one deals with both types of racism: it is disingenuous to castigate the blunt, murderous racism of the Emingers, Wohllebens, Gerlachs and Zschäpes, but to remain silent on institutional racism. Such silence perpetuates the everyday racism and thus serves the NSU’s comrades instead of fighting them. I do not believe that it is possible to protect a democratic, let alone an anti-racist, state under the rule of law in such a manner.”

For more details, we refer to the summary of Stephan Kuhn’s closing statement (in German).

Counsel Berthold Fresenius began his closing statement by considering the open racism of the accused. He noted that even accused Schultze, who has admitted his guilt concerning all the charges against him, is still unable to admit to himself or the public that he committed these acts out of a racist motivation.

Berthold Fresenius next considered the influence of then minister of the interior Otto Schily, who had very early turned the public’s attention away from the racist motivations and towards “organized crime”. He also noted that this act by Schily fit well with the interior minister’s right-leaning policies, inter alia his very hostile policies vis-à-vis refugees.

Berthold Fresenius’ statement was followed by a short statement of his client, Mr. M.A., who inter alia related how the racist investigations had impacted him personally:

„The pressure put on us in the Keupstraße by the police – which, as we now know, even sent several informers into our midst to spy on us – was kept up over several years. I have never been questioned by the police as a victim – I still do not know why not. I have never contacted the police myself – I was simply afraid of the police, afraid that they would treat me like a perpetrator. The atmosphere among the people in the Keupstraße was such that despite my injury, despite my ruptured ear drum, I did not dare visit a doctor as I feared that he would give my name to the police. It was only after the 4th of November that I realized that they would not consider us terrorists, would not consider me a terrorist anymore and I went to an ENT doctor. Of course, at that time it was too late. I am telling you this to show clearly how we victims have experienced the time after the terror attack against us.”

For details, we would like to refer to the summary of the closing statements by Berthold Fresenius and his client M.A..

The next statement was made by Mr. Arif S., client of counsel Alexander Hoffmann and also an inhabitant of the Keupstraße. He, too, dealt with the „bomb after the bomb”. In his spirited and forceful statement, he dealt with the loss of trust among the people in the Keupstraße that had bene brought about by the racist investigation:

„The Keupstraße is a street in Cologne, a locality that belongs to Cologne, a street of this state. Therefore the state has to care about us. We have doubts about the judiciary, about justice and equality, about the democracy in a state which does not care about us at all.

It is unbelievable that plainclothes officers in their questionings purposefully steered events in a different direction and cast suspicions on us. The harsh facial expressions of the police officers, their inhuman conduct were not at all fitting for police officers of this country. 

When police officers asked me the same questions again and again, I told them that I knew who the perpetrators were. And the officer asked me who. I told him that the perpetrators were neo-Nazis. His facial expression changed and he told me to be silent by moving his index finger to his lips and making a shushing sound. And I never spoke up again.“

As concerns the accused, Arif S. does not believe that all members of the NSU and its network have been investigated and indicted. He described his fear that the co-perpetrators were still living in Germany and might conduct further attacks. The “true perpetrators”, in other words: the additional perpetrators and supporters, are still to be investigated: “For me, all those who are part of their organizational structure are guilty and should be punished.”

Alexander Hoffmann could not begin his own closing statement today as Eminger’s defense counsel Kaiser again held up the proceedings. Kaiser objected to the fact that Berthold Fresenius, in his closing statement, had related that Eminger’s own counsel had called their client an “idiot”. This, he claimed, had not been said in an open trial session and moreover had been “taken out of context”. In fact, the statement was true, Kaiser had indeed referred to his client as a “useful idiot” and had drawn the court’s attention to witness statements according to which Eminger was “one short of a baker’s dozen” (verbatim: not the brightest light on the tree of the rightwing scene). Dealing with these objections took up the rest of the trial day.