8 May 2018

Closing statement of the Eminger defense: staunch National Socialist, but totally clueless

Today André Emingers counsel Sprafke, who had only joined the defense in early April, announced via press release that he had ended his representation of Eminger “due to diverging opinions between counsel and client on how the defense should be conducted further”. Thus ended the less than successful work of Sprafke in this trial, there will be no further delays caused by his motions.

Eminger defense counsel Kaiser and Hedrich than held their common closing statement. In the end, they called for a full acquittal: Eminger, while certainly a staunch National Socialist, had, according to them, not been proven to have committed any crime.

08The defense counsel will surely know that they stand rather alone with their view of the evidence – after all, last fall the court had ordered that Eminger be taken into custody as there was a strong suspicion that he had aided and abetted not only two robberies, but also an act of attempted murder, i.e. the bombing attack on a shop in the Probsteigasse in Cologne.

Their closing statement began with a very detailed reproduction of the relevant parts of the indictment and the prosecution closing statement. They then put forward their counterarguments, none of which are at all convincing:

As to the proven acts of support by Eminger, such as the provision of frequent traveler’s cards for the German rail service, they argued that these had not been a necessary precondition for any of the crimes of the NSU – leaving out that the enhanced mobility presented by these cards had made the life underground of Böhnhardt, Zschäpe and Mundlos much easier, thus also facilitating the commission of crimes.

They claimed that it had not been proven that the vehicles rented by Eminger or in his name had in fact been used to commit the robberies and the bombing attack in Cologne. However, the proven system of renting caravans for the commission of all robberies, murders and bombing attacks committed by Böhnhardt and Mundlos easily allows the conclusion that the caravans rented by Eminger had also been used in that way. Contrary to the defense closing statement, it is rather far-fetched to believe that these vehicles were to be used for vacations after the commission of the crimes.

As to the bomb in Cologne, they claimed that it had been placed at a time when the caravan had already been returned to the rental agency. This claim is based on the somewhat unclear statements of the bomb victims as to the day the bomb had been placed, statements which could not be cleared up further during the trial and which accordingly are not incompatible with the vehicle rented by Eminger having been used. Beate Zschäpe’s written statement that Böhnhardt and Mundlos had told her about their building the bomb, transporting it to Cologne and placing it in Cologne constituted further proof for the use of Eminger’s vehicle.

As to further acts of support clearly proven in court, such as a witness statement with the Zwickau police at which Eminger had presented Zschäpe as his wife Susann, the defense counsel claimed that these had fallen into a period of time in which the NSU had not been a terrorist organization anymore, but rather a criminal organization committing only robberies. The defense tried to base its idea of this alleged downgrading of the NSU in the year 2007 with a far-fetched parallel to the case of several alleged former members of the Red Army Fraction who, after the dissolution of that group, are suspected of having committed robberies. This claim, however, is disproven not least by the video with which the NSU claimed responsibility for its crimes and which Zschäpe sent out, as planned, in 2011.

As to the copy of the “Turner Diaries” found on Eminger’s computer, the defense claimed that these had not been the “blueprint” for the NSU, but that this role had fallen to the Combat 18 “Field Manual”, which had not been found with Eminger. However, the defense did not bring a single argument as to why it was impossible for more than one of these rather similar books to have functioned as a blueprint. In addition, their client had called for “armed struggle” against non-Germans with such vehemence, especially in the zine “The Aryan Law and Order” co-edited with his brother, that there is no reason to doubt his having the requisite mens rea of aiding and abetting the (attempted) murder committed by the NSU.

All in all, the defense stated did not bring any arguments which had not already been brought with respect to Emingers detention in the fall of 2017. Accordingly, there is no reason to believe that the court will come to a different conclusion in its judgment than it had in its decision on detention.

What became clear, however, was what the Eminger defense had failed to do during the last five years. Today they claimed that it was possible that it had not been André Eminger, but his twin brother Maik, also a militant neo-Nazi and still residing in the region at that time, had rented the vehicles using André Emingers identity papers – this claim was in fact brought for the first time today. However, Maik Eminger, who had refused to testify in court, had not relied on the privilege against self-incrimination, but on his right to refuse testimony as a brother of the accused. No witness, no accused, including Eminger, has ever claimed or suspected that Maik Eminger could have used André Eminger’s papers – which is hardly surprising since the trial has not unearthed any evidence of Maik Eminger having any contact with the NSU core trio. Accordingly, the court will not have to deal with this hypothetical possibility in any detail.

Similarly, the defense did not at all substantiate their claim that at the time of his first alleged crime, in the year 2000, Eminger had not been fully “grown up” and had not yet become the staunch National Socialist he is today. The defense could well have presented witnesses concerning this aspect, but it chose not to. Therefore, this claim too rested largely on the claim that one did not know when Eminger had gotten the “Die, Jew, Die” tattoo, and the claim presented between the lines that Eminger could not have been a “real” National Socialist before he got that tattoo. Accordingly, the defense closing statement did not bring any new arguments regarding this issue, relying instead on simple denial, the same as with all other issues dealt with today.