24 April 2018

The Zschäpe defense begins its closing statement – and it it even more absurd than expected.

This morning the court first heard a witness who had been summoned directly by Eminger defense counsel Sprafke. According to the defense motion, he was to state that Eminger had met him for a breakfast meeting on 4 November 2011. This was meant to refute the finding presented in the prosecution closing statement, based on cell phone tower data, that Eminger had spent the morning of that day looking online for clues of the missing Uwes together with Zschäpe. Contrary to some press reports, this would not have been an “alibi” as these acts are not crimes which Eminger is accused of, but simply presented as one of several pieces of evidence showing his mens rea concerning the crimes he is charged with having abetted. This distinction is not of importance, however, as the witness in any event did not confirm the defense claims, having no memory at all of the alleged meeting – and this despite the fact that the date of 4 November 2011 is one which people in Zwickau are likely to remember, as correctly stated by Sprafke in his motion for evidence.

When Sprafke asked for a longer break in order to write additional motions for evidence, prosecutor Dr. Diemer vehemently opposed that motion and asked that the trial against Eminger be severed from the case against the other accused. After all, it was obvious that Eminger’s new counsel had only joined the proceedings in order to further delay the end of the trial. The court did not immediately decide on the motion, instead opting to first wait for the further motions announced by the defense. Sprafke asked for an interruption of the trial until tomorrow in order to discuss this non-decision with his client, but this too was denied.

Accordingly, Zschäpe defense counsel Borchert was able to begin his closing statement around 1 pm. He announced that he would deal with the consideration of evidence, leaving the legal arguments to his colleague Grasel – a surprising division of tasks given that Borchert had witnessed even less of the taking of evidence than Grasel. Borchert also announced in the beginning that Zschäpe’s written statements in court had largely been written by him. Accordingly, it was not surprising that, in “countering” the consideration of evidence presented by the prosecution, his statements made up in trenchancy what they lacked in substance – and lack in substance they did, especially given that Borchert simply ignored the large majority of the body of incriminating evidence against his client.

We would like to show this using only one example of many: in the beginning of his statement, Borchert dealt with the prosecution statement that the NSU’s plan had been to commit murders and bombing attacks without claiming responsibility in order to sow fear in the minds of persons with Turkish roots and get them to leave Germany. He “refuted” this by means of the following “arguments”: The prosecution had not explained how that plan could have functioned. Between 2000 and 2007, not one small business owner with Turkish roots had left Germany or refrained from coming here, or at least that much had not been proven. And as to the goal of sowing fear in the minds of the victims, that did not make sense if the victims did not know who the perpetrators were. That  attacks without claims of responsibility were one strategy much discussed in the neo-Nazi scene, that documents on that tactic were found with the NSU core members, that the NSU video which Zschäpe had helped produce and had sent out reflects exactly that strategy, that several witnesses had testified as to how the crimes had indeed sown fear in the minds of their victims – all that was apparently beside the point: Borchert was unable to imagine all that, none of the victims had personally announced their departure to Borchert, nothing more to say.

Borchert continued with such sophistries over much of his statement today, ignoring practically all of the evidence actually heard in the courtroom. Time and again, he read out parts of Zschäpe’s statement – written by himself – as if nothing else needed to be said. And where there were not even “arguments” of the sort described above, he simply concluded that certain prosecution statements “did not even need refuting”.

Based on the reactions and facial expressions of Zschäpes “old counsel” Heer, Stahl and Sturm, it can be concluded that they too were not very taken with Borcherts less than stellar performance.

The trial session ended around 4 pm, Borchert will continue his statement tomorrow.