26 April 2018

Summary of the Zschäpe defense closing statement: “I am the true victim”

Today Zschäpe defense counsel Grasel continued the defense closing statement. He announced that he would turn to the legal characterization of facts, but in fact often returned to the consideration of evidence, thus repeating nearly all of the arguments which had already been brought by his colleague Borchert. According to Grasel, his client’s acts did not make her a co-perpetrator of the murders and attempted murders committed by the NSU. Above all, he stated, the only reason she had helped camouflage the underground life of herself, Böhnhardt and Mundlos was to avoid arrest, not to facilitate other crimes. Grasel referred to several of Zschäpe’s acts in the years between 1998 and 2011, as proven by the evidence in court, and tried to show why none of them had necessarily “enabled” individual acts of murder. According to him, Zschäpe had simply wanted to live together with Böhnhardt and Mundlos, avoid police detection and finance their lives with the robberies committed by the two men.

Grasel thus eluded a consideration of the facts considered in total – a consideration, however, which is mandatory here. Zschäpe was an active part of the “Section Jena” of the “Thuringia Home Guard”, she participated in violent activities of that group, she rented the garage in which were found not only a bomb workshop, but also an archive of zines showing a detailed consideration of of violent political actions committed from “underground”. Zschäpe moved to Chemnitz with Böhnhardt and Mundlos, took part in discussions about “armed struggle” with members of Blood and Honour, and it was due to her decision that Böhnhardt and Mundlos aborted their plans to go abroad. Zschäpe did not simply share apartments with them: several NSU documents were found on her computer; city maps, notes on potential targets, weapons, the NSU newspaper archive and more pieces of evidence were found in the apartments. By staying behind and securing the group headquarters while the man committed murders, she fulfilled the exact role which blue prints for the NSU such as the “Turner diaries” had foreseen for female members of Nazi terror cells.

Grasel’s arguments were not only inconsistent with the evidence, but they were not even internally consistent: according to Zschäpe’s written statement prepared by Grasel and Borchert, Böhnhardt and Mundlos had usually told Zschäpe of their murders shortly after having committed them. Accordingly, after her claimed initial attempts to dissuade them had proven unsuccessful, she must have known – even according to her own statement – that her further conduct would allow the men to commit further crimes. The defense did not consider questions such as this one at all.

Instead, Grasel put forth nonsensical arguments such as the claim that Zschäpe’s wager in a bet of “cutting 200 video clips” had referred to the deletion of ads from recordings of the TV series “House MD” – a series which was first broadcast in Germany a year after the bet in question. Just as absurd was Grasel’s claim that Zschäpe did not have “right wing views” anymore, as he could assure the court after “several discussions”. Even if Zschäpe has realized in six years of provisional detention that it will not be personally advantageous for her to continue the fight against the “Zionist occupied government”, what is relevant for the judgment is of course her ideology in the years from 1998 to 2011. And besides everything that is known from the times spent in Jena and Chemnitz, her very close friendship with Susann and André Eminger, who clearly shows his ideology even on his body given his large “Die Jew Die” tattoo and several other National Socialist markings, is much more relevant than any “conviction” of her defense attorney.

As to the claims of alcoholism brought forward in the written statement, or the claims that Zschäpe had been drunk when she set fire to the house in Zwickau, or the claims that Zschäpe was beaten and suffered from “dependent personality disorder” – none of those were considered in any detail by Grasel, only in passing to argue that Zschäpe had set fire to the house and sent out the NSU videos only to fulfill the “last wish” of the two Uwes, following a dependency which lasted beyond their death, and not, as would seem plausible, in order to further the political goals of the NSU. Nonetheless, Grasel once more painted a picture in which Zschäpe appears as a victim rather than a perpetrator: having gone underground out of love and fear of the police, sitting at home alone and in fear while the two Uwes were out murdering people, coerced and beaten by Böhnhardt, pre-judged and insulted by the press and victims and their counsel.

Counsel Borchert brought this closing statement to its logical conclusion in his statements on sentencing. Even here, he did not even refer to Zschäpe’s alleged alcoholism as a mitigating circumstance – and thus in effect admitted that this had been simply made up by the defense, another in a long list of lies calling into question the believability of the written statement.

Borchert came to the conclusion that Zschäpe was to be convicted of aiding and abetting the robberies and of arson in the Frühlingstraße house, for which she was to sentenced to not more than ten years in prison. He once more referred to Zschäpe’s so-called apology, which we have already dealt with extensively. Gamze Kubaşik, like many others, has clearly rejected this “apology” already at the time it was originally made:

“I do not accept the so-called apology for the crimes of Mundlos and Böhnhardt – it is an affront, particularly when it comes together with the announcement that none of our questions will be answered.”

Borchert’s repeated referral to this “sincere apology” shows once more that the entire statement by the Zschäpe defense is nothing but a tactical ploy by the accused and her defense counsel, that the Zschäpe defense is playing with the pain and suffering of the NSU victims’ families and using it to prepare their own myth of victimization – which again shows them deeply enmeshed in the strategy of “reversal of guilt” that is so popular with neo-Nazis.

At the end of the trial day, the presiding judge tried to find a schedule for the remaining closing statements, which proved somewhat difficult as many defense teams had special requests as to when they could hold their statements. In the end, it was decided that defense counsel for Carsten Schultze will hold their closing statement next week (March 2 and 3), followed (on March 8 and 9) by those for André Eminger and Holger Gerlach. Ralf Wohlleben’s counsel will hold their closing statement in the last week before the Pentecost break (March 15 to March 17. If this schedule is kept, the only thing left after the break (which ends on June 5) will be the closing statement of Zschäpe’s “old defense counsel” and the last words of the accused, which means that a final judgment may well be announced in mid-June.