In the trial of the Lübcke murder, his son describes the deep pain of the family on Tuesday. However, the court exempts a defense lawyer.

The sons of Walter Lübcke on the first day of the trial Photo: Thomas Lohnes / dpa

FRANKFURT AM MAIN taz | Jan-Hendrik Lübcke leans back on the witness chair and shows the judge how he found his father Walter at the night of June 2, 2019. He leans his head back, opens his mouth, and spreads his arms. So he had his father sitting on the terrace chair at that time, holding a cigarette in his left hand. The son describes it calmly, speaks calmly. It’s very quiet in the courtroom. “I thought he was sleeping.”

But Walter Lübcke hadn’t fallen asleep. He had been shot. It was probably the first murder of a politician by a right-wing extremist in the post-war period. To Walter Lübcke, the Kassel government president and CDU politician.

On Tuesday, Jan-Hendrik Lübcke, his son, testified in the trial before the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court. It will be an emotional moment in this negotiation. The trial has been running since June, and Jan-Hendrik Lübcke has been visiting it with his older brother and mother as a co-plaintiff since the beginning. On Tuesday, he speaks himself, as a witness, in a gray suit and black shirt.

Because Jan-Hendrik Lübcke was the first to find the dying Walter Lübcke on June 2, 2019. In the place of residence, the small Istha near Kassel, the wheat fair was celebrated at that time, a village festival. Walter Lübcke had stayed at home, sat outside for a cigarette and a tablet. Then he was shot in the head at around 11:20 p.m.

Rescue workers initially did not recognize murder

In court, Jan-Hendrik Lübcke now describes how his father used to weed in the garden of the common house during the day, with dungarees, checked shirt and sandals. The 30-year-old tells this with accurate memory, set. In the evening, the grandparents should take care of the grandson, the son of Jan-Hendrik Lübcke’s brother. The son says that he himself went to the wheat fair with friends.

Already on his return, around 0.30 a.m., but he stopped. The light was on in the kitchen, the patio door was open. Then he saw his father on the terrace chair. He shook his arm, noticed that it felt cool. Then panic rose. “I was thinking of a heart attack.” The son called paramedics, tried to get the father to the floor, to reanimate him. Jan-Hendrik Lübcke describes how overwhelmed he was, how alone and fearful. Now his hands are trembling at the witness desk, he is breathing heavily.

The evoked rescue workers did not initially recognize that his father was shot. But suddenly there was blood on the terrace, flowing from the father’s mouth and nose. “The paramedics couldn’t explain that either,” says Jan-Hendrik Lübcke.

Family members were then taken to the hospital, where the father’s death was finally determined. Police officers who had only just arrived had told them there in the early morning that “an object” had been found in Walter Lübcke’s head. The revolver bullet.

Walter Lübcke missed backing

So the son initially describes the evening of the crime, he becomes so emotional when judge Thomas Sagebiel asks him about the consequences of the murder. “It torn us apart. We will never cope with what was done to our father. It remains incomprehensible. ”Jan-Hendrik Lübcke describes how he still cannot work fully today. “I’m still a long way from everyday life.” His mother also suffered; she had been married to Walter Lübcke for forty years. “She was hit harder.”

Stephan E., the accused, follows all of this without emotion. He stares into the room as if petrified. There Jan-Hendrik Lübcke revives his father again. He portrays him as a good father, cheerful, cosmopolitan, willing to talk. “The office of President of the Government was his calling.” He would have retired in autumn 2019. “He wanted time for the family, so he was looking forward to it.”

Walter Lübcke would have retired in autumn 2019, he wanted to have time for the family

However, Jan-Hendrik Lübcke also describes the moment when the thing tipped over: a citizens’ meeting in Kassel-Lohfelden, October 2015. Lübcke informed there about a planned first reception center for refugees – and sharply criticized the mobsters present. Markus H., who was co-accused in Frankfurt, distributed a video scene of this on the Internet, and Stephan E. was also on site.

In a confession, Lübcke later referred to criticism as the motive for the crime. Jan-Hendrik Lübcke reports how he learned of death threats against the father after the meeting. How he was worried for the first time and lacked political backing. But the father always wanted to help the refugees. “He held up values.”

Defenders exonerated for broken trust

Neither the Federal Prosecutor’s Office nor Stephan E.’s defense lawyers ask Jan-Hendrik Lübcke any questions. The lawyer of co-accused Markus H. only one. It could have been different. In advance, one of Stephan E.’s defenders had announced that he had “many questions” for the son: the Dresdener Frank Hannig, who is considered to be close to Pegida. But Hannig is released by the court as a defender in the morning. A little bang.

On the previous day, Hannig had made several requests for evidence without consultation: for the interrogation of other possible accomplices or for a burglary in the Kassel government presidency in July 2019, in which files had disappeared. Hannig suggested that these could have something to do with the solar energy company of the Lübcke sons, that there might be crooked business – and therefore perhaps another motive for the murder of Walter Lübcke. Judge Sagebiel called the applications “whirled nonsense”.

In fact, Stephan E. had never mentioned anything other than a right-wing motive in interviews. Hannig’s co-defender Mustafa Kaplan, once an NSU victim lawyer, also distanced himself from Hannig, also in the name of Stephan E. They didn’t want to throw dirt at the Lübckes. Stephan E. applied for Hannig’s release.

Hannig appears in the courtroom on Tuesday morning, talks to Stephan E. for minutes – before Kaplan scares him away. A little later, Judge Sagebiel follows his request: His relationship of trust with Hannig is “finally destroyed”. The accused must fear that his own lawyer will harm him.

Lübcke son demands more engagement against hatred

After Hannig tried to explain at the lecture that he was probably too uncomfortable with the application, he now takes off his robe and leaves the room without a word. For him, Jörg Hardies moves up as the new defender, Kaplan’s Cologne colleague. And Kaplan announced: On Wednesday in a week, Stephan E. now wants to testify in the process.

Jan-Hendrik Lübcke does not comment on the castling. At the beginning of the trial, he and his family said that he wanted a complete investigation into his father’s murder and punishment of the perpetrators.

However, his struggle now extends beyond the courtroom. At a memorial service for his father, Jan-Hendrik Lübcke last called for more commitment against hatred in the spirit of his father. It is everyone’s mandate to counter “this terrible ghost”. “The unculture of agitation and defamation must not solidify.”

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