20 years after the assassination attempt in Düsseldorf, the BGH confirmed the acquittal for a Nazi. Twelve people were injured, some seriously.
KARLSRUHE taz | The acquittal for the now 54-year-old right-wing extremist Ralf S. was “free of legal errors”. With this ruling on Thursday, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ended the long-term trial of the bomb attack on twelve Eastern European language students in 2000 in the last instance.
The language students came from Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. Around half of them were Jews. At the Düsseldorf-Wehrhahn S-Bahn station, they were victims of a self-made TNT pipe bomb that was hung in a plastic bag on the railing of a pedestrian bridge and triggered by radio. Seven women and three men suffered some serious injuries. A pregnant woman lost her unborn baby.
The attack caused great consternation at the time, and the police immediately suspected racist motives. When there was an attack on the synagogue in Düsseldorf three months later, the then Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) proclaimed an “uprising of the decent”. There were fairy lights demonstrations, and the federal government applied to the Federal Constitutional Court to ban the NPD.
A Palestinian and a Moroccan later confessed to the attack on the synagogue and justified it with the Israeli occupation policy in Gaza. The Wehrhahn bomb attack remained unsolved. In 2009, the special police commission disbanded for the attack.
A foreseeable verdict
It wasn’t until 2017 that the investigation was successful. The police arrested the former professional soldier Ralf S., a right-wing extremist known locally. S. had lived near the S-Bahn station, his military store was next to the language school. Shortly after the crime, he was suspected, but at the time he was able to produce an alibi. But now two former prisoners had incriminated him, to whom he is said to have confessed to the attack.
In 2018 there was a six-month criminal trial at the Düsseldorf Regional Court, but at the end of which Ralf S. was acquitted. The court was not sufficient by S. ‘ Conviction S. had denied the alleged confessions. There were no tangible traces of him. S. even received compensation for several months in custody.
But the Düsseldorf public prosecutor did not want to accept the judgment and appealed. The regional court’s assessment of the evidence was incorrect. However, it was already apparent at the oral BGH hearing last November that the revision has poor prospects of success. The federal prosecutor’s office did not support the Düsseldorf public prosecutor’s revision and requested that the acquittal be upheld.
This was followed by the 3rd BGH criminal panel, which is responsible for terrorism and state security. The BGH had to accept the regional court’s assessment of evidence in principle. “Only the regional court heard all the witnesses, spoke to the experts and saw the evidence,” said the presiding judge Jürgen Schäfer. The BGH can only object to the evidence taken by the regional court in the event of legal errors, for example if the considerations were contradictory or incomplete.
Judge Schäfer went into more detail on the testimony that incriminated Ralf S. The two prisoners could not have convincingly explained inconsistencies in their statements. The statements of two women close to S., who had stated that S. had announced the crime to them, were not sufficiently comprehensible. Both women had been questioned several times by the police in 2000 and 2001 and had not incriminated S. at that time. It was only after more than 16 years that they reported their supposed memories to the police.
S. had lied several times during the proceedings, according to Richter Schäfer, and also tried to influence witnesses. But even that shouldn’t have been seen by the regional court as compelling evidence of a perpetrator, argued Schäfer. “This is how someone can behave who is wrongly accused.”
No further legal remedies are possible against S.’s acquittal.