Plea in the Lübcke trial postponed: the verdict is delayed

Because of a legal advice from the court, the defense asked for a respite – and got it. The pleadings won’t be held for a week.

The defendant Stephan E. (right) with his lawyer Mustafa Kaplan Foto: Boris Roessler, Reuters

FRANKFURT/MAIN taz | Everyone was prepared. The main defendant Stephan E.’s plea in the trial for the murder of Walter Lübcke was to take place on Thursday, the penultimate stage before the judgment. But nothing came of it: Because of a legal advice from the court, the defense asked for a delay – and got it. Now the judgment has also been postponed, from January 26th to January 28th.

In the morning, the criminal division of the Frankfurt / Main Higher Regional Court had withdrawn for an hour for a consultation. Then judge Thomas Sagebiel gave the defendant Stephan E. the legal notice that in the event of a judgment against him, preventive detention could also be issued with reservations. This means that preventive detention, which would follow a life imprisonment, could not be imposed until the prison term.

The notice was actually a formality. A life imprisonment for the murder of Walter Lübcke on June 1, 2019 was already in the room for Stephan E.: His DNA was found at the crime scene. He also confessed to the act and justified it with hatred of Lübcke, because he had criticized opponents of a refugee accommodation at a citizens’ meeting. The federal prosecutor’s office had recently demanded life imprisonment including preventive detention for E. because of the murder.

Conviction for knife attack too?

The court’s tip could also mean that Stephan E. will be convicted of another act in addition to the murder of Walter Lübcke: a knife attack on the Iraqi refugee Ahmed I. in January 2016. This act is also indicted in the trial. Unlike the Lübcke murder, Stephan E. denies this act and the evidence is not entirely clear. A conviction of E. for this was previously considered uncertain.

As a rule, preventive detention is only imposed if the person concerned has committed several serious crimes and further crimes are to be feared. With the knife attack and the murder of Lübcke this would be the case. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office also wants Stephan E. to be convicted for the attack on Ahmed I.

However, the fact that the court only announces a “conditional” preventive detention could mean that Stephan E. will ultimately not be convicted of the knife attack. Sagebiel had previously announced that his Senate is “critical” of this charge.

Mustafa Kaplan, Stephan E.’s defense attorney, asked for a longer consultation time after the legal notice in order to possibly rework his plea. He criticized the fact that the notice was given “a few minutes” before his final lecture. And the court gave Kaplan a generous time to think it over: the plea was canceled and postponed for a whole week to January 21, the day of the trial ended after that.

This also shifts the rest of the program in the process. The co-defendant Markus H. is now to plead on January 26th. The verdict is due two days later. Some trial participants criticized the postponement: It would have been enough to give Stephan E.’s defense a longer consultation time on Thursday – and to start the plea in the afternoon. A spokesman for the Lübcke family called the delay a burden for relatives.

Alleged accomplices could get away with it

For the co-defendant Markus H., also a neo-Nazi, the day was a hint. The federal prosecutor had demanded a prison sentence of nine years and eight months for him because he had provided psychological aid to the murder: with joint shooting training and visits to right-wing demonstrations, he had encouraged Stephan E. in his murder plan. In his plea, the lawyer for the Lübcke family demanded that Markus H. be convicted as an accomplice for the murder: A number of indications suggest that he – as Stephan E. last claimed – was at the scene.

However, the court would also have to announce a conviction as an accomplice with a legal notice, since this differs from the indictment. The Lübcke lawyer Holger Matt also requested this information. But here the Senate remained silent on Thursday. The judges do not seem to see Markus H. as an accomplice at the moment.

The 44-year-old could get away lightly in the end: The court had already released Markus H. from custody in October 2020 and announced that against him – because of the contradicting statements by Stephan E. – there was no longer even an urgent suspicion of a crime Assistance in murder exists.


Corona numbers in Germany: demand for a stricter lockdown

The number of corona deaths is increasing, but the situation is improving in the intensive care units. The RKI boss is pushing for fewer contacts at work.

Off to the home office: RKI boss Lothar Wieler demands even fewer contacts at work Photo: Jan Woitas / dpa

Even around four weeks after the tightened lockdown came into force, there is still no clarity as to how this will affect the number of new infections. Because of the reduced number of tests and the delay in reporting over the holidays, the numbers are “still not easy to interpret,” said the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, on Thursday.

The number of newly reported corona deaths reached a new daily high of 1,244. The mean value over 7 days rose to almost 900 deaths per day, also a new high. In the case of deaths, however, there are longer delays, so that the effects of the lockdown here are at most to be expected in part at this point in time.

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For the new infections reported daily, the 7-day mean on Thursday was around 20,500 – about 25 percent more than a week ago, but 20 percent less than the previous high three weeks ago. However, these comparisons are not really meaningful at the moment, because the number of PCR tests carried out last week was around 20 percent lower than before Christmas.

The information from the intensive care units should be most reliable at the moment. There, the number of treated corona patients was recently declining: At 5,125, it is currently 11 percent lower than the previous high on January 3. The number of newly admitted corona patients is also falling.

Ambiguity about the mutated virus

The latest development in the intensive care units is “a nice interim result,” said RKI President Wieler, but by no means a reason to give the all-clear. Overall, it looks like the number of cases will stabilize, but not yet a decline.

At the same time, concern about the new virus mutation, which was initially detected in Great Britain and which is significantly more contagious, is also growing in the RKI. According to Wieler, 16 infections with the new variant have so far been detected in Germany, all of which affected travelers from Great Britain. However, this number is not very meaningful either, because so far only a few searches have been made for the new virus: According to Wieler, only 200 to 250 genetic analyzes of the virus material took place throughout December.

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The extent to which the infected infected other people remained open. For this reason, it has not yet been possible to estimate how strongly the British variant and another one from South Africa have influenced the infection process in Germany so far. “But you could also prevail here and lead to even more cases in a shorter time,” warned Wieler.

The RKI President is therefore pushing for the lockdown to be tightened further. Above all, home office must be implemented to a far greater extent. There are far too many companies in which employees still meet in the office, although they can also work from home. “We need even more responsible employers,” said Wieler.

He also appealed to the population to refrain from traveling even more. Data analyzes showed that mobility fell significantly more during the first lockdown in spring than during the current restrictions. “Stay home whenever possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, there is progress in vaccination: The number of doses injected daily reached almost 80,000 on Wednesday, the highest value so far. According to the RKI, a total of around 842,000 people have received the first dose of vaccine so far, i.e. around 1 percent of the population.


After the death of a 23-year-old black man: Riots in Brussels

After Ibrahima B. died in police custody, there were riots with more than 100 arrests. The public prosecutor promises to clarify.

Brussels on Wednesday evening: a protester throws stones at the police officers Photo: Francisco Seco / ap / dpa

BRUSSELS taz | The body of the Belgian king was thrown with stones, there were more than a hundred arrests: After the death of a 23-year-old in police custody, there were serious riots in Brussels. Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne announced action: “The rioters will not get away with it,” said the minister.

The approved demonstration in the municipality of Schaerbeek was initially peaceful. The approximately 500 participants called for an explanation of the death, some participants also chanted “Black Lives Matter”. In addition, the names of the youngest victims of alleged police violence in Brussels were shown and called. When the demo broke up on Wednesday afternoon, a group of angry youth attacked the police, which led to riots. A police station went up in flames and several police cars were demolished. The car of the Belgian King Philippe, who happened to be passing by, was also attacked, but without consequences.

The escalation does not come as a surprise. In Brussels, several young people had died in police operations in the past few months, and the mood has heated up. In particular, immigrants from Africa accuse the police of racist attacks. At first glance, Ibrahima B., who died on a guard on Saturday evening, was also a victim of police violence.

The black young man with Guinean roots had evaded a corona control near the Brussels North Station. He was one of too large a group of young people that the police wanted to check out. Although he was initially able to escape, he was caught by the police and taken to the station for interrogation.

The suspicion: Did the police call a doctor too late?

Ibrahima collapsed there from initially unexplained circumstances. An autopsy of the body revealed that he died of heart failure. Forensic medicine found the 23-year-old had a congenital heart defect. However, there is a suspicion that the police officers may have called a paramedic too late.

The Brussels public prosecutor’s office promised a “full investigation of the events”. The independent “Committee P”, which reviews police work in Belgium, has also launched an investigation. The focus is on the question of whether the police behaved correctly – or whether racism and violence played a role in Ibrahima’s death.


Presumed right-wing terror in 2000: Wehrhahn attack goes unpunished

20 years after the assassination attempt in Düsseldorf, the BGH confirmed the acquittal for a Nazi. Twelve people were injured, some seriously.

Rescue workers take care of the injured in front of the Wehrhahn S-Bahn station on July 27, 2000 Photo: dpa

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.


Katja Kipping on “Zero Covid”: “Protection must get better”

The Left Party leader welcomes the demand for the Zero Covid Initiative. Above all, she sees a group of responsibility.

Is campaigning for a solidarity lockdown: Katja Kipping Photo: Reuhl / imago

taz: Ms. Kipping, so far there have been Covid protests mainly from the right. Now a left-wing initiative has formed with Zero Covid. The name says it all: with a hard lockdown, the number of new infections can be reduced to zero. What do you think of this request?

Katja Kipping: I am pleased that there is an initiative that draws attention to the enormous consequences and suffering that comes with Corona. Socially, this is an important counterbalance to the right-wing coronavirus and lateral thinkers.

Is this a realistic requirement?

That is of course a very ambitious goal. But perhaps an initiative that deliberately seeks to counterbalance it must also be ambitious. A lot would be gained if we in Germany had a situation like the one that the Max Planck Institute discussed. That we push the numbers to a maximum of 1,000 new infections per day, because then individual tracking is ensured and we can enable social life again. At the moment, the aim of the measures is to prevent the complete collapse of the health system and the crematoria. This is important. But of course it cannot just be about averting the very worst. Our goal should be that we come to a state where we can make social life possible again in all its diversity.

born 1978 in Dresden, has been leading the Left Party since 2012 together with Bernd Riexinger. Both announced at the end of August that they would no longer run for chairmanship. The election of a new tip was postponed to February 2021 due to Corona.

The initiative also calls for factories to be closed. The federal government has so far refused to impose binding conditions on employers. What’s your attitude?

The Federal Government’s previous lockdown measures are clearly on the list. I have already criticized several times for the fact that the federal government is actually placing the burden of contact restrictions on private households alone. However, the spread of a virus does not end where lobby interests are affected. The government should finally have the courage to make the employers’ side obligatory. Where work can be done in the home office, there must be the right to work from home to reduce contact. Where work has to continue on site, there should be clear and binding infection control measures – which, if necessary, can also be enforced with unannounced controls and fines. It cannot be that Amazon sorting centers turn into hotspots again and again, because infection protection continues there.

Her party colleague Sahra Wagenknecht said in an interview that she herself believes the federal government’s goal of reducing the 7-day incidence to 50 is unrealistic. She demands to concentrate only on protecting the risk groups, but otherwise to relax now.

Is that really your position? During the days I had several debates in the party and in the group. And nobody took that position. The party’s common position is: We stand up for a solidarity lockdown. And that means: In addition to our demand to make employers responsible for infection protection, social security must also run better. That is also a problem at the moment.

Will you sign the initiative’s appeal?

I will definitely inform you that this initiative exists. As the left we have our approach of solidarity lockdown, the initiative has its own. And that’s just as well. Not everything that I find sympathetic has to be captured by party politics.


Nord Stream 2 study: Unauthorized pipeline

The Naturschutzbund states: Nord Stream 2 thwarted the Paris Climate Agreement and endangered birds in the Baltic Sea.

Pipes for the construction of the pipeline are stored on Rügen Photo: Jens Büttner / dpa

BERLIN taz | The further construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline thwarted the German energy transition, is nonsensical in terms of energy policy and endangers the winter quarters of loons and sea ducks in the Baltic Sea. This is the result of a study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) on behalf of the environmental association Nabu. “The report reveals the backward-looking arguments of the pipeline proponents and also the attempts to justify the state government in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to found the MV Climate Protection Foundation,” said Nabu President Jörg-Andreas Krüger on Thursday.

“The lights will not go out without fossil fuels, nor is gas a climate-friendly bridging technology. The opposite is the case. Natural gas is a climate killer, just like coal, due to the methane emissions during extraction, transport and use. We have to stop Nord Stream 2, ”emphasized Krüger.

The laying work on the roughly 1,200-kilometer pipeline between Russia and the island of Rügen has been suspended since December 2019. Gas will flow through the pipeline to Germany and other countries. According to the Nord Stream consortium, around 120 kilometers of pipeline still have to be laid in Danish and a little over 30 kilometers in German waters.

The Nabu report contradicts the arguments from the energy industry of Nord Stream 2 AG, which intends to continue building the gas pipeline during the particularly sensitive winter rest period in the Pommersche Bucht – Rönnebank bird sanctuary. The relevant application is currently with the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) in Hamburg. The pipeline “contradicts, yes disregards German planning and nature conservation law. There is no legal planning legitimation for the urgent further construction at the expense of loons and sea ducks, ”said Kim Detloff, Nabu expert for marine protection.

Violation of the Paris climate agreement

Nord Stream 2 also violates the Paris Climate Agreement: “The obligations from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 and the European Union’s tightened climate targets in 2020 in line with this clearly mean that no fossil-fuel infrastructure – and therefore no natural gas infrastructure – may be built any more.”

There is also no short-term or long-term coverage gap for gas. Demand in Europe has been stable for 15 years and the existing infrastructure is perfectly adequate for current and future needs. As the energy transition progresses, the demand for gas will decrease significantly in the next few years, in Germany between around 70 percent and over 95 percent, says the DIW.

Nord Stream 2 endangers the energy transition, the report continues. Because every new infrastructure for natural gas increases the risk of the so-called fossil lock-in – making it more difficult to reduce dependence on climate-damaging fossil fuels. Natural gas is also unsuitable as a bridging technology due to the climate-damaging methane it contains.

US State Department warns

The US State Department also warned against further construction of the pipeline. A spokesman for the Reuters news agency confirmed on Wednesday evening that the ministry has contacted companies involved in the construction since the beginning of the year and made them aware of the possible consequences. “We’re trying to educate companies about the risk and urge them to back out before it’s too late,” said a US government official.

According to this, the State Department could publish a report on Thursday or Friday on companies that it believes will support the construction of the pipeline. This also includes those who offer insurance, help with the laying of the underwater pipes or check the construction equipment of the project. This could also include the insurer Zurich Insurance Group, said the government employee. Zurich said it was obliged to “fully comply with all applicable sanctions provisions”.

Nord Stream’s financial partners include the German groups Uniper and the BASF subsidiary Wintershall Dea as well as OMV from Austria.

Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) and BUND Lower Saxony published an opinion on Thursday that clearly opposes a liquid gas terminal in Germany where US gas could land. The planned terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) near Stade an der Elbe cannot be approved for environmental and safety reasons.

The planned annual volume of 12 billion cubic meters of liquefied gas would result in CO2 emissions of around 21 million tons. “The planned import of liquefied natural gas obtained by fracking would be a fall from grace in terms of climate policy and does not fit in with the times,” said DUH Federal Managing Director Sascha Müller-Kraenner.


Impeachment against Donald Trump: Risky hope

The second impeachment against Donald Trump is a historic event – but the likelihood is slim that the Republicans will now rethink.

Donald Trump: a second impeachment and only one week left in office Photo: Delcia Lopez / ap

As expected, the US House of Representatives passed charges against still-President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening for “inciting a riot”. He is the first president in US history to have to deal with an impeachment procedure twice. Well deserved, one would say in English, well deserved in the face of a presidency that, like no other before, disregarded all the rules of democratic debate, decency and the truthfulness that is already limited in the public representation of politics. Nevertheless, as correct as the reflex is to hold Trump accountable for his role in the storming of the Capitol on January 6, the approach is dubious.

Because the impeachment process, to which the German constitution has no equivalent, transforms a political body into a legal one. MPs and senators become prosecution, defense and court. An institution exclusively focused on the organization of political power disguises itself as an independent judiciary. This is doubtful anyway, but at least requires different procedural standards than, for example, the debate on a resolution or a draft law, if the rule of law is not to be further undermined.

But because Trump is only in office for one week anyway, the democratic majority rushed to the vote by bypassing the usual procedures, i.e. testimony in the judiciary committee, obtaining legal expertise and intensive debate and weighing up their evaluation.

The Republicans in the Senate did almost exactly the same thing in the first impeachment trial in 2019, in order to quickly vote down the indictment – and both approaches further exacerbate the weaknesses of the process. Because it is political majorities and not legal evaluations that determine the outcome, the decision never has the authority of the judgment of an independent judiciary. If dubious procedures are added, what suffers is exactly what this impeachment is actually supposed to defend: trust in the judiciary and democratic institutions that are exclusively bound by a common set of rules.

The small hope that had arisen on January 6th that the shock of the events could also cause a rethink on the Republican side, is thus possibly lost. Only ten Republican MPs voted with a Democratic majority on Wednesday. There are far too few to free the Republican Party from the clutches of the sect-like Trump cult. It is also up to the democrats to promote this process or to make it impossible. The impeachment process is of no help here.


Government coalition in Italy burst: crisis at an inopportune time

Italia-Viva boss Matteo Renzi believes that in the midst of the pandemic, he must also bring a government crisis to Italy. So he gambled himself away.

Italy plunges into a government crisis: Matteo Renzi Photo: dpa

Which devil is Matteo Renzi riding? The former prime minister and today’s head of the small party Italia Viva believes that in the middle of the pandemic, of all things, in the middle of the deep economic and social crisis it triggered, he would have to give Italy a government crisis.

Italy doesn’t need this crisis. Under Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the government has done a decent job overall in the face of the corona pandemic, it reacted decisively both in the first wave in March and in the second wave from October onwards, not least in Brussels when it launched the big one European “Next Generation EU” package reached, from whose funds 209 billion euros will flow to Italy.

Certainly, like other governments in Europe, it could have done a lot more in the summer to better prepare the country for the second wave, had it had to take tougher measures earlier in the autumn – but it was and is Renzis Italia again and again Viva, who resisted further restrictions in school, business and private life.

Fighting the pandemic cannot be the sole purpose of a government, Renzi said at his press conference, at which he announced the break of the coalition on Wednesday evening. But then he got down to business – better to the person who really bothers him: Giuseppe Conte. Unlike the unpopular Renzi, the head of government enjoys great popularity, and he was allowed to be painted by his adversary as a “populist”, even a little dictator who “inflicted wounds on democracy”, who “with one decree after another” rule.

Conte has to go – that is Renzi’s real message. After the break of the coalition between the five stars and the right-wing populist Lega (also under Conte), he himself was at the cradle of the second Conte government with its five-star coalition, the moderate left Partito Democratico (PD) and the small radical left list Liberi e Uguali (LeU) confessed.

Buying time for your own small party

At the time, Renzi probably only wanted to buy time to split the PD, to which he still belonged at the time, and to be able to found his own party Italia Viva, without having quick new elections with a victory for Lega boss Matteo Salvini thwarting his plans did.

Italia Viva (“Living Italy”) came along too, but it quickly turned out to be stillborn, which is around 3 percent in opinion polls. Renzi had to bury the dream of becoming the Italian Macron. Even worse, the PD and the five stars did not work smoothly during the pandemic, but overall they worked together quite well – and Renzi was on the sidelines, had hardly anything to report, and worse: was hardly noticed in public.

At least that he could change with the government crisis that he set off. But neither Italy nor its party will take this step, or better: this act of desperation will be of much use. For the time being, Renzi only managed to get the other three coalition partners to rally behind Conte more united than ever, to brand Renzi’s actions as “extremely serious”, as “directed against the country”. And he can look forward to the applause of the right-wing opposition, which, under the leadership of the Lega, is now smelling the morning air of faster new elections.

But he did not solve his problem: His Italia Viva will remain marginal with any solution – re-launch of the coalition, Contes continuing to govern without Renzi and instead with the confidence of newly recruited center-members, an all-party emergency government or new elections. Only 13 percent of Italians believe that Renzi is acting in the interests of the country; 73 percent see him as being driven by personal interests. And new elections in particular would mean the political death of his party.

Renzi is considered to be a player who likes to play poker high. But this time he could have gambled himself away, just like the other Matteo, Salvini from the Lega in the government crisis of August 2019. Unlike Salvini, who heads a party that is 30 percent good, Renzi could, however, with his 3 percent Party on a suicide mission to which he himself fell victim first.


Latest news in the corona crisis: 1,244 new deaths reported

Never before have more corona deaths been registered in Germany, and the RKI reports 25,164 new infections in the last 24 hours. A WHO team arrives in Wuhan.

The number of cremations in a crematorium in Celle has been increasing steadily since November Photo: dpa

New high in death toll

The number of coronavirus-related deaths reported to the Robert Koch Institute has reached a new high. Within one day, the German health authorities reported 1,244 new deaths, according to the RKI numbers from Thursday morning. In addition, 25,164 new infections were reported.

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The previous high of 1,188 deaths was reached on January 8th. In the case of new infections registered within 24 hours, the highest value was reported on December 18, at 33,777 – but this included 3,500 late reports. Basically, the interpretation of the data is still somewhat difficult at the moment, because according to the RKI, corona cases were discovered, recorded and transmitted with a delay around the turn of the year.

The number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants (seven-day incidence) reported to the health authorities within seven days was 151.2 on Thursday morning. Its previous high was reached on December 22nd at 197.6. However, the differences between the federal states are currently enormous: Thuringia has the highest incidences with 310.4 and Saxony with 292.4. Bremen has the lowest value with 84.0.

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In the past few days, the number of new infections registered has risen again, according to the RKI situation report on Wednesday evening. Whether this trend will continue beyond the expected follow-up tests and late registrations will only become apparent over the next few days.

According to the RKI report on Wednesday, the nationwide seven-day R value was 1.02 (previous day: 1.07). This means that 100 infected people theoretically infect 102 more people. The value represents the occurrence of the infection 8 to 16 days ago. If it is below 1 for a long time, the infection rate subsides. (dpa)

WHO team arrived in Wuhan

An international team of scientists led by the World Health Organization arrived in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Thursday. There, the origins of the novel corona virus that triggered the global pandemic are to be investigated, as reported by state television. The team arrived in the late morning (local time) with a low-cost airline from Singapore and should initially be quarantined for two weeks.

The United States has accused China of hiding the extent of the first outbreak around a year ago. You are therefore calling for a transparent investigation. It is criticized that Chinese experts carried out the first phase of the investigation. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Gheybreyesus had also said that he was “very disappointed” that China had delayed the team’s entry for the long-awaited mission.

The WHO delegation is headed by Peter Ben Embarek, an expert on animal diseases that spread to other species. The Vietnamese biologist Hung Nguyen is also part of the ten-person team. He told Reuters news agency that he did not expect any restrictions on the group’s work in China. After the quarantine, the team will spend two weeks questioning people from research institutes, hospitals and the fish market in Wuhan, where the new pathogen is believed to have appeared for the first time, Hung added.

In China, the number of new corona infections has risen faster than it has been in over ten months. 138 new Covid 19 cases became known within 24 hours, as the health authority in Beijing announced. The day before it was 115. The number of deaths rose by one to 4,635, the first time since May 2020. The authorities quarantined more than 28 million people at home in January to curb the spread of the disease. (reuters)

Marburger Bund: Debate about compulsory vaccination failed

The Marburger Bund doctors’ union has rejected the discussion about compulsory corona vaccination for health care workers. The current debate was sometimes grotesque, said chairwoman Susanne Johna of the “Augsburger Allgemeine” (Thursday). “The vaccination campaign has not yet started across the board, as insufficient vaccination quotas for medical staff are already being discussed and there is even a compulsory vaccination for healthcare staff”, she criticized. “We think that’s wrong.”

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The Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) had brought up compulsory vaccination for nursing staff and suggested that the German Ethics Council should deal with it. Such a step is necessary to protect the residents of old people’s and nursing homes, argued Söder. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) and Medical President Klaus Reinhardt spoke out against the proposal.

Johna warned of negative consequences for the willingness to vaccinate: “The current demand for mandatory vaccination increases the skepticism among parts of the population,” said the doctor. “We should advertise for vaccination and at the same time adequately answer all questions that arise.” This creates trust and increases the acceptance of the vaccination. The problem is more that there is currently not enough vaccine available for the medical staff, she told the newspaper: “We hear from the hospitals that only a part of the vaccine has actually been offered.” (epd)


Impeachment proceedings in the USA: Impeachment against Trump opened

Ten Republican MPs also voted for the process. The President must now answer in the Senate for his role in the storming of the Capitol.

House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi in the final vote Foto: Scott Applewhite/ap/dpa

WASHINGTON dpa | After his supporters storm the Capitol, Donald Trump becomes the first US president in history to face a second impeachment trial. In addition to all 222 Democrats, ten of Trump’s Republicans also voted in the House of Representatives on Wednesday to open a new impeachment process.

197 Republicans voted against it. Trump has to answer in the Senate for “inciting a riot”. According to the Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a ruling in the Chamber before Trump’s successor Joe Biden is sworn in next Wednesday is ruled out.

In the resolution opening the procedure, Trump is made personally responsible for last week’s attack on Congress. Angry Trump supporters broke into the Capitol on Wednesday last week after an inciting speech by the President. At the time, Congress had met there to formally confirm Biden’s election victory. Five people were killed in the riots, including a police officer.

The unprecedented outbreak of violence in the political center of the United States caused a shock both nationally and abroad.

In the resolution to initiate proceedings, Trump is described as “a threat to national security, democracy and the constitution”. Trump now has to face an impeachment process in the Senate that is similar to a judicial process. A two-thirds majority in the Senate would be needed to ultimately condemn Trump. To do this, at least 17 Republican senators would have to side with the Democrats.

Impeachment more than a symbol

It is currently unclear whether this could happen. Trump will automatically leave office with Biden’s swearing-in on Wednesday next week. In addition to the impeachment, the resolution also provides that Trump should be banned from future government offices. This would mean that he would not be allowed to run for president in 2024. Therefore the impeachment procedure would be more than a symbolic step.

Leading Democrats had also argued that it was important to set an example to condemn Trump’s actions and thus prevent possible similar misconduct by future presidents.

McConnell said on Wednesday, “Even if the Senate process started this week and moved quickly, there would be no final verdict until President Trump left office.” He cited procedural rules and precedents. The previous three impeachment trials in the Senate had taken 83, 37 and 21 days, respectively, McConnell said.

Individual Republicans in the Senate have already openly opposed Trump, but have not yet said yes to impeachment. The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, told CNN that there might be a political “earthquake” in the Senate that could lead to a majority in favor of impeachment.

Schiff was referring to a report by the New York Timesafter which Mitch McConnell internally indicated that he thought the removal was justified. Citing unspecified sources from McConnell’s circle, the newspaper wrote that McConnell was happy that the Democrats had initiated an impeachment process. That could make it easier for his party to break away from Trump. In his communication, McConnell did not comment on whether he considered the impeachment procedure to be justified.