11 January 2018

No closing statements today.

No closing statements could be held today as the court once more had to deal with Ralf Wohlleben’s back pains. Wohlleben had been examined in the prison yesterday, today a medical expert was present (once again) to report on his state of health.

Wohlleben’s defense moved that this report be heard in closed session. That motion in itself would not be much to report on – after all, the details of Wohlleben’s back problems are indeed not of particular interest to the broader public. However, under the applicable legal provisions, it the court were to exclude the public for the duration of expert’s report, it would automatically have to do so as well for the (rest of the) closing statements. This rule has been laid down to protect victims of severe crimes from having details of their state of health broadcast to the public in closing statements – nonetheless, from its wording, it would also apply to the case at hand.

The court has not yet decided on the question. It ended the trial session around noon “with respect to the state of health” of Wohlleben. Accordingly, the remaining closing statements of victims’ counsel have been postponed to next week.

The Wohlleben defense announced that they will bring a motion for evidence next week – trying once again to present an alternative chain of custody for the Ceska murder weapon and thus exonorate their client, who is charged with having provided that gun. This motion will not see any success – not least because Wohlleben himself, in his statement in court, has largely admitted to the objective facts of having procured the weapon together with accused Schultze. What’s more, the “new evidence” to be presented is far from convincing and rather an expression of the defense’s desperation.

The court informed the parties in writing yesterday that it was considering setting further trial dates for the period between September 2018 and January 2019. However, this should not be taken as a sign that the trial will indeed continue until that time, but rather as an expression of the court following its routine of announcing the trial dates for the period after the next longer break (in this case, the summer break 2018) after the end of the previous longer break (the Winter break 2017/2018). The court hastened to add that it was only considering setting these dates “out of an abundance of caution” and that in its view, the trial was very near to its conclusion.