The written judgment of the Higher Regional Court of Munich has been finalized and sent to the court registry on 21 April, one day before the end of the time limit. Of course, the court is within its rights to use up almost the entirety of the available time limit, but its approach nonetheless leads to problematic consequences given that almost two years have passed since the oral judgment, and especially given the enormous political importance of the NSU trial and judgment. One cannot quite escape the feeling that the court, by waiting until the last minute to finalize its written judgment, is once again trying to show that the judgment against Zschäpe, Wohlleben, Gerlach, Schultze and Eminger is somehow normal and trivial and that the NSU complex has been dealt with in a final manner anyway.Continue reading
Appeals against the verdict
Two weeks after the verdict, the Munich court has notified parties of who has appealed that verdict: all five defendants have handed in notices of appeal, as has the federal prosecution with respect to André Eminger, who had been acquitted of the majority of the counts in the indictment. Victims and victims’ counsel have not appealed – largely due to the fact that appeals by victims are inadmissible if and to the extent the accused have been convicted. Victims’ counsel will, however, have an opportunity to comment on the appeal briefs of other parties.
When the Federal Court of Justice will decide on the appeals is hard to predict: first of all, the court in Munich will have to submit its written judgement. In theory, it is allowed to take 93 weeks from the day of the oral verdict, i.e. until late April 2020. Most parties expect the court not to use up the entire time allotted, but it seems very likely that it will take at least a number of months before the written judgment arrives. Continue reading
The judgment of the Court protects the state and once more abandons the victims.
The Higher Regional Court of Munich, with its judgment today, has dealt a severe blow to those who are interested in a real fact-finding on the crimes of the NSU and their background. By limiting itself to a severe conviction for Beate Zschäpe, while at the same time playing down the criminal acts and ideology of supporters and denying any responsibility of state organs, the court goes a lot farther than was to be feared based on the evidence heard in court. Continue reading
Wohlleben released from provisional detention
As the court in Munich notified us today and only in reaction to a concrete request, Ralf Wohlleben has been released from detention yesterday. The federal prosecution had not opposed the motion for release brought by the defense, who had stated that Wohlleben had also found work close to his place of residence – which so far is unknown to us. The prosecution noted above all that, from the perspective of the accused, there was a “not entirely fallacious” hope that the last third of his sentence may be suspended.
The statement by the prosecution and the court decision do not refer to an appeal by the prosecution against the rather mild sentence passed against Wohlleben, accordingly it seems that there has been no such appeal.
It is thus to be feared that the mild course taken by the court in the judgment against Wohlleben will be continued in the execution of the sentence.
Verdict to be pronounced on Wednesday, 11 July. Last words of the accused without any surprises.
Today the public gallery in the courtroom was filled to the very last place. However, before the court could give the accused the opportunity to present their last words, victim’s counsel Erdal brought a final motion: back in February, he had moved that the Christian cross in the courtroom be removed during the pronouncement of the verdict; this motion had been rejected by the presiding judge just yesterday. Today Erdal asked for a review of that decision by the full court. He remained unsuccessful.
Last words of the accused next week, pronouncement of the verdict likely on 10/11/12 July
The most important result of today’s trial session is that, in the view of the court, all that needs to be done before it can begin its deliberations is to hear the last words of the accused.
The court will hear these last words next Tuesday, 3 July. With the exception of Eminger, all accused have stated that they will make short submissions of 5 minutes or less. The court has not explicitly stated when it is planning to pronounce its verdict, but it seems very likely that it will take a week for its deliberations, with a verdict being pronounced on 10/11/12 July.
Update: What’s on the agenda for next week?
Counsel Sturm finished her closing statement today. However, before the court can ask the accused whether they have any last words, it has to deal with the motions for evidence brought by the Zschäpe defense. It has announced that it will hear the arson expert on details concerning the house in the Frühlingsstraße (see our report of [link] 7 June 2018 [/link]) on Tuesday. It is to be expected that the remaining two motions will be rejected.
In theory, the court would then be able to ask for any last words on Wednesday or Thursday and to pronounce its judgment in the trial week 3-5 July. However, both the court and the defense may also cause further delays in the trial schedule.
Counsel Sturm on the definition of terrorism: nonsensical from a legal perspective, perfidious from a political perspective
In today’s morning session, counsel Sturm held her closing statement on the criminal liability of Beate Zschäpe as a member of the terrorist organization NSU. Sturm claimed that the NSU cannot be considered a terrorist organization within the meaning of Sect. 129a of the German Criminal Code. She based this, on the one hand, on an argument based on European law, which is simply nonsense, and on a political argument, which in effect defines racist terror attacks as per se non-terrorist.
The NSU, Sturm claimed, cannot be considered a terrorist organization in the sense of Sect. 129a as its crimes did not serve a specific terrorist purpose – such as instilling fear and terror in the (entire) population. Continue reading
Closing statement of counsel Sturm still not finished. And: a change in the weather.
One could have thought that the third and second-to-last part of the closing statement of counsel Sturm – on whether or not Zschäpe is criminally liable as a founder and member of a terrorist organization – could have been rather short, relying as it does to a large part on her preceding statements on the evidence taken in court: since Beate Zschäpe was not involved in the crimes on an equal footing with Böhnhardt and Mundlos, but was simply the nice flatmate who loved kids, she was not a member of the organization; since under German criminal law organizations have to consist of at least three members, the NSU was not an organization in the legal sense.
Further tedious closing statement by counsel Sturm
Zschäpe defense counsel Sturm continued her closing statement today, but once more did not bring it to an end, announcing instead that she would wrap up tomorrow. After that, the court will also have to decide on the motions for evidence brought in the closing statement. Thus it will not be able to pronounce its judgment any earlier than the trial week of 3-5 July.
Sturm tried once more to “evaluate” the evidence in order to show that Zschäpe was not an equal member of the NSU, but rather a friendly neighbor who loved kids and who more or less accidentally lived together with two men who happened to be murderers. Sturm frequently criticized the prosecution’s evaluation of the evidence, while at the same time massaging the facts at every opportunity.