13 June 2018 

No trial session on 14 June 2018

The trial session scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, 14 June has been cancelled due to illness of defense counsel Sturm. The trial will continue next Tuesday.

12 June 2018

Closing statement of counsel Stahl on the question of co-perpetration

Today Zschäpe defense counsel Stahl gave his closing statement on Zschäpe’s criminal liability as a co-perpetrator of the murders, bombing attacks and robberies committed by the NSU. As announced by his colleague Heer last week, Stahl moved that Zschäpe be acquitted of all these charges.

Stahl began by announcing that the defense largely agreed with the prosecution as to which facts could be considered proven and only differed as to the legal characterization of these facts. In fact, however, his statement consisted of a mixture of attempts to attack the legal characterization of the facts as found by the prosecution – which, according to Stahl, did not establish Zschäpe’s liability as co-perpetrator – and attempts to attack these very facts and to defend Zschäpe’s self-presentation as someone who had only accompanied Böhnhardt and Mundlos underground more or less willingly and did not have anything to do with their crimes. Continue reading

7 June 2018

Counsel Heer concludes the closing statement on the Frühlingsstraße fire

Zschäpe defense counsel Heer today continued his long-winded statement on the criminal liability of his client for arson in the Frühlingsstraße house and for attempted murder of the old lady in the neighboring apartment and of two contractors working in the house. He spent the morning continuing to deal with the evidence in court, turning to legal questions in the afternoon.

It was already exhausting to follow his pseudo-exact and long-winded statements on the evidence, but this tendency became even worse for his statements on criminal liability. Heer spent several hours on detail questions of the law of arson, sounding like a law student wishing to show off his knowledge of all sorts of legal questions, even those that do not have any relevance to the case at hand. Continue reading

6 June 2018

Beginning of the closing statement on the Frühlingsstraße arson

Today defense counsel Heer began that part of his closing statement focusing on the arson in the Frühlingsstraße house. He did so in his usual pedantic and overcomplicated manner, which resulted in him being unable to finish his closing statement today. We will report in more detail tomorrow.

5 June 2018

Closing statement of counsel Heer: Why Beate Zschäpe is unable to make a valid statement in court.

The court began the trial day by reading out two short documents and viewing a propaganda video found on Wohlleben’s computer. It also denied two motions for evidence brought by the Wohlleben defense. Surprisingly, the defense reacted not with a motion for a trial break and a challenge for alleged bias, but rather not at all.

Accordingly, the closing statement of Zschäpe’s “old defense counsel” could begin before noon. Counsel Heer began and announced that the defense would need at least the entire trial week. He began with the concluding motions of the “old counsel”: conviction only for the arson in the Frühlingsstraße, acquittal concerning all other charges, a sentence amounting to time served or less, immediate release from detention. Continue reading

17 May 2018

Closing statement of counsel Nahrath: Breaking – Hitler not an anti-Semite after all?

After counsel Klemke had finished his closing statement today, Wohlleben defense counsel Wolfram Nahrath concluded the defense closing statements. Many had expected that Nahrath, who had inter alia been the last „leader” of the National Socialist “Viking Youth”, would conclude with a striking display of Nazi ideology. He himself warned before beginning the second part of his statement that the “faint of heart and the suffering are advised to contact their local do-gooder or political commissar.”

Continue reading

16 May 2018

Further closing statement of the Wohlleben defense

There is not much to say about the continued closing statement of Wohlleben defense counsel Klemke that we have not already said yesterday. Klemke, like Schneiders before him, tried to defend the “death of the Volk” motion for evidence brought by the defense. However, apart from some attempts at humor such as the claim that he would have like to read out the motion again in order to see victims’ counsel “migrate” from the courtroom – it’s funny because that would make them migrants! –, this excursion too did not contain anything new.

Continue reading

15 May 2018

Closing statement of the Wohlleben defense: agitating and whining

It can generally be said that the presentation of extreme right wing ideology usually consists of two core elements, namely agitating and whining (as described in detail in a German-language supplement to newspaper Analyse und Kritik). As far as the closing statement of the defense of Ralf Wohlleben is concerned, counsel Schneiders was responsible for the latter, counsel Klemke for the former.

In Schneiders’ eyes, her client is, above all, a victim: victim of the press which had massively pre-judged him, victim of some victims’ counsel engaging in “scene voyeurism”, victim of a biased court planning to convict him at all costs in order to satisfy the demands of “media and politics”. Her statement consisted of a confused mixture of criticism of the court, rehashing of defense motions for evidence on substantial issues, and crude conspiracy theories. Continue reading

9 May 2018

Closing statement of the Gerlach defense: quite well done but disproved by their own client.

Today the Gerlach defense held its closing statement. And while this statement, too, remained unconvincing in the end and will not save Gerlach from his well-earned conviction, one can at least state, at least with regard to the statement by counsel Hachmeister, that this, finally, was an actual closing statement. Yes, Gerlach’s counsel attacked “political circles” using the trial for political issues, and yes, they brought ludicrous claims, e.g. that nobody had had to deal with right-wing terror prior to the 2000s. But they at least made an actual effort to convince the court and dealt in some detail with the evidence presented and considered by the prosecution.

Continue reading

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.