Carsten S. was convicted of supplying arms to the NSU trio and was the only one to fully unpack. Now he has served his sentence.
He was the only one to fully unpack in the NSU trial: Carsten S., now in freedom Photo: Andreas Gebert, dpa
BERLIN / MUNICHtaz | He was the only one who gave full testimony in the NSU trial who credibly regretted his actions. And the only one who accepted the judgment of July 11, 2018 and began his prison sentence: Carsten S., sentenced to three years of youth imprisonment, as a weapons supplier for the terror trio. Now he is also the first to have served his sentence and to be free again.
In the spring of 2019 Carsten S. started his imprisonment. A spokesman for the Munich Higher Regional Court of the taz confirmed that he was released on June 12 this year. He has served half of his sentence, the rest has been suspended. This is possible for juvenile prisoners. Carsten S.’s lawyer, Johannes Pausch, also confirmed the release. “He regrets what he did to this day, she will never let go of him. But he is also confident that he can start a new life now. “
Where Carsten S. was in custody remains a secret to this day, as the 40-year-old is in a witness protection program because of his statements. Even his lawyers do not know, according to their own information. Just as little where S. now lives – under a new name. He is currently reorganizing his everyday life and looking for a job, said Pausch.
Carsten S. belonged to the right-wing extremist scene in Jena in the 1990s, as did the later NSU terrorists Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Böhnhardt and Beate Zschäpe. When they went into hiding, supporters used him to keep phone contact. In 2000, the then 19-year-old brought the trio their later murder weapon, the Ceska pistol, including a silencer and ammunition. Böhnhardt and Mundlos shot nine people with a migration background with this. The first victim was Enver Şimşek in Nuremberg, exactly 20 years ago.
Carsten S. broke with the right-wing extremist scene shortly after the weapons were handed in and after a preventive detention in another matter. He moved to Düsseldorf, came out as gay and worked for the AIDS service. When the NSU was exposed in 2011 – Böhnhardt and Mundlos had shot each other after a failed bank robbery, Zschäpe had blown up the shelter in Zwickau – the past caught up with S.: He was arrested and was initially imprisoned for four months.
The bereaved forgave him
In contrast to Zschäpe and the three other co-accused helpers, S. testified in the process full of tears, burdened himself and the former NPD functionary Ralf Wohlleben heavily. He apologized to the victims of the NSU. Some accepted this, and asked the court for leniency for Carsten S. There was even a meeting of the bereaved with him.
Carsten S.’s defense lawyers had demanded an acquittal in the process: Your client never thought the murders were possible. The court saw it differently and sentenced him to an accessory to murder. Because S. was an adolescent at the time of the crime, he was sentenced to a youth prison term. Unlike Zschäpe, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, and the other co-defendants, he did not appeal.
In April there was a hearing for Carsten S. before the Munich Higher Regional Court, under the direction of Judge Manfred Götzl, who also spoke the NSU judgment. The convicted person was then certified as having a favorable social prognosis and was granted parole.
The Federal Court of Justice is now dealing with the revisions by Zschäpe and the co-defendants Wohlleben, Eminger and Holger G. In the case of Eminger, the federal prosecutor’s office also appealed. A decision on this is not expected until next year. Zschäpe has been in custody for nine years. The other co-defendants, who received sentences of up to ten years, are still at large for the time being.
Right-wing extremist threatening letters reach numerous people in these weeks. What is striking is that they are often directed against women. Why is that?
TV presenter Maybrit Illner, left-wing politicians Martina Renner, Anne Helm and Janine Wissler, and cabaret artist Idil Baydar: They all received extreme-right threatening letters, signed with “NSU 2.0”. Such a letter was sent to NSU attorney-at-law Seda Basay-Yildiz two years ago. Men are also the target of the latest extreme right-wing attacks under this sender, such as the Siegburg lawyer Mehmet Daimagüler, who also represented co-plaintiffs in the Munich NSU trial. Nevertheless, it is striking in the letters: Here the focus is primarily on women. Why is that?
The addressees have a few characteristics: They are well educated, successful in their jobs, take an active stand against right-wing extremism, and some have a migration background. In doing so, they fulfill several enemy images that right-wing extremists have. And yet some is new.
What’s new about “NSU 2.0”?
“A new dimension is reached here,” says Liane Bednarz. The journalist, right-wing extremism expert and author has been dealing with the topic of new rights and right-wing extremism for years. Looking at the “NSU 2.0” emails, she says: “There is probably an entire network behind it.”
After all, the personal data of three of the threatened women were accessed by police computers in Hesse. Those affected are thus suggested that the police have been infiltrated by right-wing extremists, who have obtained the personal data of the women in this way. Threatening letters can always be scary. But if it is suggested that even the police, as guardians of public order, not only no longer guarantee the security of the individual, but actively endanger it, that is yet another level. “This increases the intimidation effect,” says Bednarz.
The journalist and right-wing extremism expert Liane Bednarz (archive picture): “A new dimension is being reached here.” (Source: Piero Chiussi / imago images)
“The primary goal of the senders is to scare the women – instead of secretly planning a murder, as in the case of the Kassel district president Walter Lübcke,” says Bednarz. Nevertheless, these threats should not be played down. After all, those affected are massively opposed to the worldview of the right with their work and their demeanor and are thus enemy images.
How modern Nazis see women
In line with the prevailing image of women in National Socialism, right-wing extremists see women as the mother and provider of the household. It is reduced to its biological function of having as many children as possible in order to enlarge the population. Even if modern neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists no longer formulate this openly, it is the worldview that they represent.
And this is expressed in the contempt for women like the threatened, who take up a job, are financially independent, act confidently and choose career and children at the same time. They call all of this “gender ideology” – they believe that the assumption that women and men can reconcile work and family life is nonsense. However, the family picture has changed, with one effect: extreme right-wing men perceive this as a loss of power and try to compensate for it with a counterattack. “Antifeminism is an integral part of the far-right worldview,” says Liane Bednarz.
The most recent example is arousal about the quota for women planned by the still CDU boss Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Right-wing Twitter users, both men and women, describe the women’s quota as sexism – gender alone should be sufficient as a qualification. A misleading accusation, because sexism describes a person’s devaluation based on their gender. But that is not the point, but rather the end of discriminatory structures and the equality and participation of men and women laid down in the Basic Law.
Calculation that threatened people do not defend themselves
“The men who write these threatening e-mails increase from a perceived helplessness into violent fantasies,” says Bednarz. Many of them are sexually charged.
Ultimately, it is nothing more than submitting to the woman again and imposing the traditional role model on her again. “These men probably hope that those affected will then withdraw from the public again,” explains Bednarz.
In the chauvinistic scene, the prejudice prevails that women are the weaker sex. That should also be a reason why the current threatening letters are directed against women: The senders may assume that they are not defending themselves. The people concerned do not give any reason for this assumption in what they do and how they appear.
Open criticism of right-wing extremist structures
The threatened women regularly campaign against right-wing extremism. The TV presenter Maybrit Illner addresses him in her programs. In the case of left-wing politicians, the struggle against the right, anti-fascism, is already in their party’s DNA. Martina Renner, for example, is one of the most distinguished experts on the right-wing scene in Germany.
Left-wing MP Martina Renner: She is one of the most distinguished experts on right-wing extremism in Germany. (Source: Jürgen Heinrich / imago images)
In her parliamentary work in the Thuringian state parliament, she helped clarify the NSU murders. She speaks regularly about the topic in interviews. The women thus offer the right-wing a target. With their commitment, but sometimes also with their bare biography.
Anyone who, like Frankfurt lawyer Seda Basay-Yildiz, campaigns for the victims of the NSU murders and also wants to enable terrorist suspects to be brought under the rule of law, is not perceived highly by right-wing extremists. Basay-Yildiz and cabaret artist Idil Baydar added: They are German, but have a migration background.
Cabaret artist Idil Baydar: Not German enough in the crude world view of right-wing extremists. (Source: C. Hardt / Future Image / imago images)
Reason enough for right-wing extremists to hostile them. Because in the world view of many neo-Nazis, it does not count if someone was born in Germany, speaks German and barely masters the mother tongue of the parents – based on the Nazi racial theory, that is not enough.
Is the pressure on the investigators growing now?
In any case. The right-wing network in the police and armed forces uncovered last year severely damaged the credibility of the investigative authorities, as did dealing with the recent debate about racism among the police.
If the police want to restore their reputation, they must now prove their success in the investigation. It has to clarify who accessed the women’s data on the police computers – and whether it is a larger group of right-wing extremists. At the same time, she must provide the victims with the greatest possible support. The fact that the Hessian police chief Udo Münch has given up his post and an internal special investigator has started work is only a start.
What about Seehofer and the racism study?
It is a wild confusion about the study on “Racial Profiling” in the Federal Ministry of the Interior: At first Horst Seehofer (CSU) did not want it. Then he supposedly knew nothing of such a planned study. Finally, he declined to investigate: he had no reason to believe that there was a problem with structural racism in the federal police.
Criticism of Seehofer’s attitude is growing. Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) has opposed the Federal Interior Minister: he is planning a country study on racism in law enforcement – if necessary without the participation of the federal government.
Beate Zschäpe’s defense lawyers present their reasons for the revision in the NSU proceedings. The Federal Court of Justice is now on the move – and that may take a while.
Does not accept her punishment: Beate Zschäpe, here with her defender Mathias Grasel Photo: Peter Kneffel / dpa
BERLINtaz / dpa | The NSU process goes to the next stage. The defenders of Beate Zschäpe and co-accused Holger G. submitted their reasons for the revision on Monday. Now the Federal Court of Justice has to deal with the judgment in the NSU trial.
The Munich Higher Regional Court on July 11, 2018, after a five-year trial, sentenced Beate Zschäpe to life imprisonment with particularly serious guilt for the ten-fold NSU murder series. Four co-defendants received prison terms of up to ten years in prison. In April the court presented its written, 3,025-page reasoning. The defense lawyers then had a month to justify their revision. Only one accused, Carsten S., had accepted his judgment. He handed over a weapon to the terrorist group and is now serving a three-year sentence.
In the case of Zschäpe, three grounds for revision were submitted immediately because the 45-year-old had overthrown the original defenders Anja Sturm, Wolfgang Heer and Wolfgang Stahl in the NSU trial and a fourth defender, Mathias Grasel, asserted himself. Sturm and Heer now drafted a joint statement of reasons, which according to SWR comprises a total of 2,300 pages and seven procedural complaints. Stahl confirmed to the taz that he was submitting his own brief with a complaint, and that he would submit further statements. According to his own information, Grasel submitted the third application on Monday.
All Zschäpe defense lawyers do not consider it acceptable that the accused, as an equal accomplice, was convicted alongside her underground buddies Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos – even though she was not at any crime scene. Rather, the men alone were responsible for the murders, attacks and robberies. Grasel told the taz that he saw “significant legal errors” in the conviction of Zschäpe.
Co-defendants also want revision
The co-accused Holger G. also filed a reason for the appeal, according to the court. He was sentenced to three years in prison for delivering a weapon to the trio and handing over papers.
The two other co-accused André Eminger and Ralf Wohlleben still have until Friday to give their reasons, because they received the written reasons for the judgment only later and the time limit for the reasons for the revision only runs from receipt.
In the case of André Eminger, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office had also announced a revision – and the court had already submitted its reasons. The Zwickauer had remained loyal to the NSU trio until the end and procured caravans, an apartment and train tickets for the terrorists. The federal prosecutor even considered whether Eminger was the fourth member of the NSU and demanded that he be imprisoned for twelve years. But the higher regional court saw it differently: for the judges, Eminger was only initiated into the murders shortly before the end of the series of attacks. The court therefore sentenced the neo-Nazi, who is still a professor, to only two and a half years in prison.
The federal prosecutor would have had more time to justify the revision in the Eminger case than the other parties to the proceedings: until June 12 – because of a faux pas. The court had not sent the prosecution two pages of the grounds for the judgment, as a spokesman for the taz confirmed. The document therefore had to be sent again. The question of whether André Eminger’s verdict is valid is of far-reaching importance: Because if the closest confidant is not supposed to have known about the NSU murders, charges against other terrorists are largely hopeless.
Once all the reasons for the appeal have been given, a multi-month procedure begins in front of the Federal Court of Justice, in which all parties can submit comments again. The judges then check whether the NSU judgment was correct in terms of content and form. A decision is not expected until next year.
Victim members and their lawyers criticize the reasons given for the NSU trial: They are a “memorial to the failure”.
“The verdict did not bring justice.” Elif Kubaşık, widow of NSU victim Mehmet Kubaşık Photo: Peter Kneffel / dpa-Pool / dpa
BERLINtaz | They are words of deep disappointment. “The justice I was hoping for was not the result of the judgment,” Elif Kubaşık writes to the judges in the NSU trial. “It is as if Mehmet was just a number for you, as if our questions had not been asked.” Mehmet, the man from Elif Kubaşık. Shot by the NSU on April 4, 2006 in Dortmund.
Elif Kubaşık was in the NSU trial, over and over again. She testified as a witness, she said a final word, she also traveled to the verdict on July 11, 2018. “That day burned in on me,” writes Elif Kubaşık. Because the presiding judge Manfred Götzl only read his verdict “coldly”. Because he never mentioned them, the victims’ relatives, in it. Because he silenced Ismail Yozgat, the father of the shot Halit Yozgat, “with relentlessness” when he cried out in pain in the hall. And because Götzl said nothing about the many unanswered questions that still concern families today about the NSU terror series. Elif Kubaşık had to leave the room at the time.
And now everything repeats itself.
A few days ago, Götzl’s Senate presented his written reason for the NSU judgment. On 3,025 pages, the judges dissect the guilt of Beate Zschäpe and the four co-accused of the NSU terror series, of the ten murders, the two attacks and the 15 robberies. Beate Zschäpe received life imprisonment for this, four co-defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two and a half to ten years.
3,025 pages of reasons for judgment, but not a word to the victims
But even on these 3,025 there are no explanations as to what consequences the murders had for the relatives. And also no words about the years of failure of the investigators and constitutional activists in the NSU terror series.
It is difficult for Elif Kubaşık to cope with. So she wrote her statement, addressed to Götzl’s Senate. In order to get answers to her questions, she had come to the court again and again, “although it was extremely difficult for me”. Why weren’t the right-wing terrorists stopped? What helpers did they have? What did the state know? She hoped for answers and a fair judgment, Kubaşık explains. But: “This judgment is not fair.”
If the reasons for the judgment were so long at 3,025 pages, “why didn’t you at least write down what you asked us about what these murders did to us and our families?” Asks Kubaşık. Why are there no comments about other helpers? How close was the state to the trio? How did the Office for the Protection of the Constitution destroy files? “We didn’t want anything impossible,” Kubaşık writes. “We wanted you to listen to us seriously. Us, who knew before everyone else that there were Nazis behind the murders. We wanted you to do your duty. That you investigate what happened. That you write down what has been said. “
19 victim lawyers also criticize the Senate hard
And Elif Kubaşık is not alone in her billing. 19 lawyers from victims’ families also criticize the rationale for the judgment in harsh terms. This is “formulaic, ahistorical and cold”, it says in their joint statement. The verdict negates the network of right wing terrorists, shortening the taking of evidence “beyond recognition” and contributing “nothing to the truth in the NSU complex”. The failure of the investigators and the protection of the constitution would be “hushed up”. The reasons for the judgment revealed that the judges “were not interested in clarification”.
The lawyers also complain about dealing with the victims. The court is facing these “with ugly indifference”. In the reasons for the judgment, “extreme cold” was written about the dead and only noted that these were people with a migration history. The court doesn’t give them a face, it makes them “interchangeable extras”. The NSU ruling was thus “a memorial to the failure of the rule of law, which had criminalized the relatives of the NSU murder victims for years and has now finally failed.”
With the reasons given for the judgment, the defense lawyers now have until mid-May to justify their revisions for the Federal Court of Justice. The federal prosecutor had also appealed, here against the mild judgment of two and a half years in prison for the co-accused André Eminger. At the time, neo-Nazis acknowledged this with cheers in the hall. This was also a shock for the victim families present.
Many relatives no longer seem to believe in further clarification of the NSU terror series. Despite all the disappointment, Elif Kubaşık does it anyway. There are still many people who “fight for the truth”, she writes. She had therefore not given up hope of answers, despite everything.
A few days ago, the Munich Higher Regional Court presented the written verdict in the NSU trial – now the victims’ lawyers are settling the judges. The rule of law abandoned the relatives of the victims.
19 lawyers of relatives of the NSU victims settled with the Munich Higher Regional Court (OLG) after submitting the written judgment against the right-wing terrorist Beate Zschäpe. In a written statement that they now published, they accused the judges of “ugly indifference” to the co-plaintiffs and complained of a “failure of the rule of law”.
“The rule of law has abandoned the victims of NSU terror,” the paper said. The verdict was “formulaic, ahistorical and cold”, it was a continuation of the court’s disregard for the victims of the “National Socialist underground”. “It is a memorial to the failure of the rule of law”, which has criminalized relatives for years and has now finally failed.
Zschäpe sentenced to life imprisonment
The court had recently submitted its written judgment against Zschäpe and four co-defendants, almost two years after the oral pronouncement on July 11, 2018. Zschäpe had been sentenced to life imprisonment at the end of more than five years of mammoth proceedings for the murders and attacks by the NSU – also if there is no evidence that she was at one of the crime scenes herself. However, she lived underground for almost 14 years with her friends Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt – at that time, these nine murderers of Turkish and Greek origin, as well as a police officer, were murdered. In the end, the men committed suicide to avoid arrest. Zschäpe set fire to the last apartment they shared, sent a confessional video – and turned himself in to the police.
The court condemned Zschäpe as an accomplice in all murders and attacks by the NSU – and underpins this in the written judgment. Zschäpe’s contribution to the crime was “objectively essential”, it says there. The exact reasoning is of great interest because the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe has to review the NSU judgment.
Lawyers: Role of intelligence agencies and police “hushed up”
The co-plaintiff lawyers are now criticizing that the verdict does nothing to establish the truth in the NSU complex: “The verdict does not even begin to reflect what was brought to light by the taking of evidence. It has shortened the results of the five years of taking evidence beyond recognition or brazenly concealed. ” The role of the intelligence services and the police, for example, was “hushed up”. The name of a security officer who was at one of the crime scenes was not mentioned once in the judgment. In addition, “the organizations and structures of the neo-Nazi scene, without which the NSU could not have existed, would be spared”. For example, the “Blood & Honor” supporter network is not mentioned at all.
In addition, the lawyers complain that the murder victims of the NSU were “individualized with no sentence” in the written judgment. Only her name is mentioned, not even her age. “The verdict would have given the NSU murder victims a face that could describe the void that their murder broke,” they complain. But none of the words that the bereaved would have uttered with great personal effort in the main trial in the face of the accused can be found anywhere in the 3,025 pages.
It is like a déjà vu for the victims. At the oral verdict on July 11, 2018, the families of the ten murdered had been waiting hour by hour for the court to address them with at least one sentence. Judge Manfred Götzl had announced the sentence for four hours, but he had no sentence left for the families who had hoped for justice for five years to have their suffering recognized. The victims waited in vain.
For this, Judge Götzl strongly admonished the father of Halit Yozgat, who had been murdered in Kassel, who had jumped up in his pain and loudly called out the Muslim creed. The father was immediately surrounded by police officers. At that moment the widow of Mehmet Kubaşık, who was killed in Dortmund, had to leave the courtroom. She couldn’t take it anymore.
“This day has burned itself into me”
“This day has been branded with me,” says Elif Kubaşık in a statement that the Süddeutsche Zeitung is present. “I couldn’t forget how relentlessly you tried to silence Ismail Yozgat, who lost his son, during the verdict,” she said to the court. “He complained only out of pain. I did not understand why we were not worth a word to you, why you did not mention more than the number of shots with which Mehmet was murdered. (..) It is as if Mehmet only has been a number for you. “
Many of the relatives were paralyzed after the verdict, because they also had to listen to the neo-Nazis celebrating on the grandstand that the accused André E., a staunch neo-Nazi, was largely acquitted and released. They had hoped that there would be a sentence about them in the written judgment. But they found none. No sentence on families – on 3025 pages.
Elif Kubaşık cannot understand why none of her questions were taken up in the judgment. “The sentence is very long. But why didn’t you at least write down what these murders did to us and our families? Why didn’t you write down what came out about the many helpers in this group, what came out about who everything about these three people knew how close the state was to them? “
Unusually sharp attack on the court
Lawyers from a number of victim families are now attacking the court in an unusually sharp manner. The constitutional state has failed the victims of the NSU terror, write the 19 lawyers from Berlin, Kiel, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Hamburg. The court was “with ugly indifference” and “extreme cold” to the victims.
The written judgment was a “memorial to the failure of the rule of law, which for years criminalized the relatives of the NSU murder victims and has now finally failed them.” The Senate, chaired by Götzl, was not up to the task of finding the truth and restoring legal peace. “The judgment shortened the results of the five years of taking evidence beyond recognition or brazenly concealed it.”
For lawyers in particular, the description of the murder victims in the judgment is as if the judges had seen through the eyes of the perpetrators. They give examples of this, such as how Mehmet Kubaşık is called: “Due to the obvious southern descent, Mehmet Kubaşık belonged to the victim group defined by the three persons as xenophobic and racist”. What this means is that the NSU saw foreign-looking people as victims, whom it wanted to kill and drive out of Germany.
All murder victims are described as Kubaşık, criticize the lawyers. “None of the murdered men mentioned the court that they were fathers who left wives, children, parents and siblings. The verdict could have given the NSU murder victims a face that could describe the void that broke their murder,” said it in the statement. “But not one of the words that the bereaved uttered with great personal effort in the main trial in the face of the accused,” had been included in the more than 3000 pages of judgment.
Right-wing radical scene promoted with tax money for years
In addition, there is no reference to the role of the protection of the constitution, the role of the intelligence services and police authorities is “hushed up”. The Thuringian constitutional protection had promoted the radical right-wing scene in Thuringia, from which the NSU grew, with tax money for years. A V-man in the vicinity of the NSU alone received 200,000 Deutschmarks. An employee of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Cologne had shredded files on the knowledge of right-wing radicals in Thuringia after the NSU had been exposed.
But in the entire judgment there is neither the word “Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution” nor “Thuringian State Office for the Protection of the Constitution”. There is also no mention of Andreas Temme from Kassel, who was questioned over six days and who was at the scene of the crime in the small internet café when Halit Yozgat was murdered. “The security authorities could not have written the reasons for the judgment better,” the lawyers explain.
Even the neo-Nazi scene can now sit back and relax. “The reasons for the judgment conceal the reality of the NSU with its large network of helpers,” the lawyers write and criticize how the neo-Nazi scene, without which the NSU could not have existed, is spared. The “Blood & Honor” supporter network is not mentioned at all. Blood & Honor had helped Beate Zschäpe, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt go into hiding, arranged accommodation for them and collected money.
The lawyers fear that the suspected helpers will hardly be prosecuted after this judgment by the Munich Higher Regional Court. And completely incomprehensible is the extensive acquittal of André E., whom the court had taken into custody months before the verdict and had considered to be urgently suspected of assisting in the murder.
Elif Kubaşık writes in her statement: “I had so many questions: How could an armed group commit fascist murders and attacks in Germany over the years? Why weren’t they stopped? What did the state know about it?” The decision in the NSU trial did not answer them.
Zschäpe’s actions in the NSU are underpinned on 3,025 pages. However, the trio’s most loyal helper is relieved.
There is no doubt about her guilt: Beate Zschäpe Photo: PeterKneffel / dpa
BERLINtaz | It is a historical document. On 3,025 pages, the judges of the Munich Higher Regional Court in their written verdict justified the guilt of Beate Zschäpe and four co-accused of the NSU terror series. At the ten murders, the two attacks in Cologne, the 15 robberies. The brief was sent to those involved in the process a few days ago. It is groundbreaking. Do the judgments stand up to the Federal Court’s review? Can further charges against NSU helpers be based on this?
The judges for chairman Manfred Götzl had negotiated the terror of the “National Socialist underground” for five years. On July 11, 2018, they passed their verdict: life imprisonment for Zschäpe, with particularly serious guilt, and sentences of two and a half to ten years for the co-defendants. For the court it was clear: Zschäpe acted equally alongside their underground buddies Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt. It is fully responsible for the terrorist acts.
That was exactly the central question of the process: Was Zschäpe really an equal accomplice to the terror trio? Even though she wasn’t at a crime scene?
The judges now substantiate their point of view – and meticulously – in the justification for the judgment that is available to the taz. They devote a good 1,900 pages to evaluating the evidence of Zschäpe’s deeds. And they leave no doubt: Zschäpe’s contributions to the act were “of paramount importance” for the terror series, yes “downright condition”. All of the trio’s actions would have taken place “together, in a division of labor in a conscious and deliberate cooperation”.
Zschäpe’s “indispensable” contributions
Zschäpe camouflaged the trio with alibis, veiled the absences of the Uwes – and also selected the crime scenes and victims with the men. The fact that she was not there when the deeds were done was an “indispensable” part of the plan – to secure the apartment that served as the “headquarters”. And to destroy evidence in an emergency and send the confessional DVDs. As Zschäpe actually did in November 2011. Only then did the NSU blow up. According to the judges, Zschäpe had thus completed the series of terror and only made it recognizable as such.
Zschäpe had tried to dispel this interpretation at the very end of the process. Suddenly she broke her long silence and declared that all the deeds had been done by Mundlos and Böhnhardt alone, that she herself had only been initiated afterwards. She was “horrified” by the deeds. However, she could not prevail against the men, she was even beaten by Böhnhardt.
The court rejects Zschäpe’s statements as contradictory and unbelievable
The judges all reject these statements as “incredible”. Because Zschäpe himself is persecuting “Nazi racist ideas” that terror corresponded to their “ideological interests”. So Zschäpe with Böhnhardt and Mundlos had pleaded in the comradeship Jena before diving in 1998 that one had to “do more”, and implemented this with the creation of dummy bombs. The trio was “personally and ideologically fixed on each other” and “increasingly radicalized”. The murder attacks were then the next step, “an escalation of their willingness to use violence”. A common step.
Zschäpe was suppressed? No, according to the court: All witnesses would have experienced the trio harmoniously and Zschäpe as self-confident. Böhnhardt violence? The statements are far too “contradictory”: Sometimes there is talk of blows, then only firm tackling, sometimes the violence occurred until 2001, then until 2008. Zschäpe’s alleged alcohol problem, for example when the last shelter was set fire, with several bottles of sparkling wine ? Didn’t exist: Zschäpe acted in a controlled manner, acquaintances had never noticed any alcohol problems and Zschäpe had no withdrawal symptoms in custody.
For the image of the powerless Zschäpe, the defenders had also brought up their own expert: psychiatrist Joachim Bauer. He attested Zschäpe a “dependent personality disorder”, a severe addiction – and thus a reduced guilt. The court had already rejected Bauer as biased during the trial. In the grounds of the judgment, the Senate does not even take up its diagnosis anymore – but fully stands behind the self-appointed expert Henning Sass, who attested Zschäpe “sophistication and discipline” and full responsibility. Sat’s assessments were “convincing” and “borne by great expertise”. The second expert from Zschäpe’s lawyers – Pedro Faustmann, who criticized Sass’ methodical approach – is dealt with just as well: “Methodological errors make Prof. Dr. So far did not recognize. “
Zschäpe’s defense lawyers also refer to the case law of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), which sets strict standards for complicity. Lawyer Mathias Grasel announced that he would measure the NSU judgment against it in his reasoning for the appeal. Götzl’s Senate also refers to the BGH: it refers to a recent BGH decision that complicity in the presence of the crime scene is not necessary. Rather, contributions to the act, a personal interest in it and an influence on the execution of the act were sufficient. And this, according to the judges, is “given in all cases” at Zschäpe.
The most faithful helper is said to have known nothing
In the case of a defendant, however, the court surprisingly deviated from the indictment: André Eminger. From almost the beginning to the end, the neo-Nazi, who had “Die Jew Die” tattooed on his stomach, remained loyal to the trio, provided him with an apartment, train tickets and mobile homes. The NSU drove one of the vehicles to its first bomb attack in Cologne in 2001. The federal prosecutor’s office for Eminger therefore requested twelve years in prison – and asked whether he was not the fourth member of the NSU.
The court saw and sees it differently: it only sentenced Eminger to two and a half years in prison – because he knew nothing of the terrorist acts with almost all the help. When Götzl announced this in court, the neo-Nazis present burst into cheers.
However, the Senate is now underlining its view – and explicitly designating Eminger as a “non-member” of the NSU. The reason: Eminger had – despite his help – had little contact with the trio in the early years. It was therefore “remote” that he was initiated into the terrorist acts – there was “neither a cause nor a need for this”. It was enough for the trio to tell Eminger only the reason for their submersion: the explosives found in a Jena garage. Eminger also had no idea that terror was being committed with the motorhomes – renting was “everyday business”.
Only in 2007, when Eminger prevented the trio from being exposed, was he initiated into the terror series, the court believes. At that time, Zschäpe had to go to the police about water damage in the house. Eminger accompanied them and claimed that Zschäpe was his wife. Both were only visiting the house. The policeman believed it. It was only after this enormous relief service that Eminger found out about the murders. With this knowledge, the Zwickau only got the Bahncards – and could therefore only be condemned as a terrorist supporter.
No words about the failure of the constitutional protection
It is a view that victim lawyers and the federal prosecutor’s office strongly question. They refer to Eminger’s longstanding contact with the trio, neo-Nazi ideology that advocates his loyalty and violence: why should the trio keep the deeds from him? In the Eminger case, the federal prosecutor has therefore appealed.
If the court’s statements on Eminger remain, further charges against NSU supporters are probably off the table. Because if even the longest-standing and closest helper can be condemned as a confidant, how can this be achieved with others? Victim lawyers therefore state in a statement “the question of how to proceed with the revision of the federal prosecutor’s office is the most exciting and most important”.
However, the victim lawyers also confirmed the reasons for the judgment in another criticism: that the court had not given enough attention to other NSU helpers and the failure of the constitutional protection and investigators. Rather, the Senate emphasizes how “foreclosed, careful and legendary” the “three people” would have acted. There is no question of a possibly larger NSU network. Neither is there any mention of the conduct of the protection of the constitution, nor is its former employee Andreas Temme, who was present during the NSU murder in Kassel. The court only adheres to the evidence of guilt for the accused – and only that.
It is up to the BGH whether the judgments against Eminger, Zschäpe and the others stand. Only Carsten S., who was convicted of bringing the murder weapon, withdrew his revision and was already serving his sentence. All other convicts have one month to justify their revisions. After a written procedure, the BGH judges will then decide on the NSU judgments – but probably only in 2021.
Updated on April 30th, 2020 at 1:15 p.m. In an earlier version of the article it was stated that the expert Joachim Bauer attested to the defendant Beate Zschäpe that he was not guilty. This was wrong and has been corrected. Bauer attested Zschäpe a reduced liability.
The written NSU judgment has been available since Tuesday, and now the defenders are writing the revisions. There is a short deadline for this.
Your NSU judgment is under scrutiny: Judge Manfred Götzl (2nd from right) and his fellow judges Photo: Peter Kneffel / dpa
BERLIN / MUNICHtaz | The written justification of the verdict in the NSU trial was presented on Tuesday, and the defenders are now working on their reasons for the revision. The time for this is short: the lawyers only have one month at their disposal.
“We will examine the written reasons for the judgment in detail and justify the revision within the month,” said Wolfgang Heer, defender of Beate Zschäpe, to taz. The defenders of several co-convicts also said that their clients stuck to the revisions, and the reasons were now being formulated. However, the lawyers were still waiting for the court receipt to be received by post.
The criminal division of the Munich Higher Regional Court had presented its written justification for the NSU trial on Tuesday just one day before the deadline for it – 21 months after the verbal announcement. Already on July 11, 2018, the judges sentenced Beate Zschäpe to life imprisonment for the terror series of the “National Socialist Underground” with ten deaths and three attacks. Four co-accused helpers were given sentences ranging from two and a half to ten years in prison. The senate around the chairman Manfred Götzl now records his reasons for judgment on opulent 3,025 pages. In addition, there is her protocol of the negotiation, which comprises 44 files.
Two reasons for revision for Zschäpe
Immediately after the verdict, all defense lawyers announced revision for their clients. Only Carsten S., the bearer of the Ceska murder weapon to the NSU trio, later withdrew this and began his three-year prison sentence in spring 2019.
For Beate Zschäpe there will be two reasons for her revision – because she had overthrown her original public defenders, including Wolfgang Heer, and enforced a fourth public defender, Mathias Grasel. Both parties develop independent pleadings.
“I still think the judgment of the Higher Regional Court is wrong,” said Grasel. Contrary to what the Senate had found, Zschäpe was not an equal accomplice to the NSU murderers Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt. “Therefore, my main focus will be on the legal figure of complicity and the reasoning of the court,” said Grasel. He had evaluated the previous case law of the Federal Court of Justice regarding complicity and would “measure against this” the written NSU judgment.
In fact, the Higher Regional Court saw no evidence that Zschäpe was at one of the NSU crime scenes. For the judges, however, it was clear that the right-wing extremist wanted the murders and attacks carried out just as much as her two comrades-in-arms. Zschäpe camouflaged the group with false alibis, organized the finances and finally sent the confessional DVD. In doing so, she participated in all crimes “consciously and intentionally”.
To invalidate this assumption, Zschäpe’s defenders now only have four weeks – a legally stipulated period. “In contrast to the time limit for the court, this time limit unfortunately does not increase with the length of the main hearing,” complained lawyer Grasel. At the same time, grounds for revision were “one of the most demanding activities of a criminal defense lawyer”. “So there is a lot of work to be done in a very short time.”
Victim lawyer has little expectation of reasons for judgment
Mehmet Daimagüler, a co-plaintiff for the families of two Nuremberg NSU murder victims, showed understanding that it took time to write an audit-proof judgment after such a long process. Nevertheless, the long period between the delivery of the judgment and the reason for the judgment is problematic. “No matter what the reasons for this, it has a sedative effect on the public. There is hardly any critical handling of the NSU complex anymore. “
Daimagüler also has subdued expectations regarding the reasons for the judgment. “In five years, the court has avoided the hot iron. I have little hope that the reasoning behind the judgment will be different. ”So the judges did not investigate the doubts about the trio thesis. The “clearly recognizable institutional racism” in police authorities, which prevented the investigation of the murders and the dubious role of the protection of the constitution were almost not addressed, said Daimagüler. “I’m afraid that we won’t read much about it now.”
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office is also active in the month for the reason for the revision. She too had announced revision for a verdict – against the co-sentenced André Eminger. Although the Zwickau right-wing extremist was the closest helper of the NSU trio until the end, the court only sentenced him to two and a half years in prison. In the courtroom, neo-Nazis burst into cheers. The federal prosecutor, on the other hand, had asked Eminger to be imprisoned for twelve years
After receipt of the reasons for the appeal, there will be a written procedure lasting several months before the Federal Court of Justice. Only then will the judges there make a final decision on the NSU judgments. This is not expected before 2021.
E. was a confidante of Beate Zschäpe, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt for 13 years. Nevertheless, he was acquitted in the NSU trial. Now the judges have justified their astonishing judgment.
When the Munich Higher Regional Court handed down its verdict against Beate Zschäpe and her four co-accused on July 11, 2018, the right-wing radicals began to hoot in the visitors’ gallery. She was not interested in life for Beate Zschäpe. They applauded when the court of all things convinced the most convinced neo-Nazi on the dock, the 40-year-old André E. largely acquitted himself and immediately released him. The man who had the words “Die Jew Die” tattooed on his stomach (die, Jew, die) walked out of the courtroom as a free man.
A decision that also left the Federal Prosecutor astonished. She had demanded twelve years in prison for André E. He was the fourth man on the Nazi underground cell, NSU for short, the man who knew everything, her closest confidant. André E. just grinned. Chief Prosecutor Jochen Weingarten had cast all doubts in one sentence: It was hard to believe that André E. “trotted” next to Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Böhnhardt and Beate Zschäpe for 13 years, addressed them under cover names, met them regularly, never saw them work , accepts expensive gifts from them, “but never, never, never asks:” What do you actually live on, why underground, and what do you actually do all day long? “
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office was not the only one who hoped for an answer to this question in a written judgment, which the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) in Munich has dismissed last Tuesday after almost two years of work. Of the Süddeutsche Zeitung the 3025 pages are available.
The verdict has 3025 pages and recognizes more than 600 testimonies
Of course, the court dealt with the main accused Beate Zschäpe. Of course, it meticulously described all ten murders, all 15 robberies and the two bombings in Cologne. It has recognized thousands of evidence and more than 600 testimonies. But anyone who thinks the Zschäpe pages are the most interesting is wrong. The court dedicated its own book to André E.’s partial acquittal. There it sets out the puzzle pieces why André E. really only “trotted” alongside the three NSU killers in the eyes of the Senate for 13 years, as prosecutor Weingarten called it, in disbelief.
The court’s statement: André E. simply had no reason to ask his friends what they were doing all day. Because at first he did not really know the three of them – although he had rented them an apartment under his name, although he made purchases for them, even though he made his health insurance card available to the two men, even though he rented a motorhome three times for them which they then drove to raids and an explosive attack. And even though they had the same ideology and didn’t have to say a word. “However, such a relaxed personal relationship in connection with its ideological connection did not provide the accused E. with deep insight into the living conditions of the three people in hiding,” the court writes.
Therefore, the Senate concludes “that the accused E., from a lifelike perspective, assumed that the three would make a living from sources that were fundamentally permitted and not non-serious criminals.” “Close to life” is a term that lawyers love, but in this case it is defined very differently by the federal prosecutor and the court. You just have to imagine how quickly you can find out what and whether friends are working in a medium-sized city like Zwickau.
The Federal Court of Justice decides whether the verdict remains in effect
André E. only knew that explosives had been found in the three right-wing radicals, that Uwe Böhnhardt was threatened with imprisonment and that they had been submerged because of this, the court writes. “However, these circumstances are not an indication that they made a living after being submerged by armed robberies at financial institutions.” A conspiratorial life underground is not closely linked to the robbery. Because of this, André E. could not have counted on his three friends using the motorhomes that he rented for them to robberies and an attack in which a 19-year-old was seriously injured in Cologne. Renting the mobile homes was an “everyday business” for the friends.
And the hatred of foreigners in which the comrades constantly fought? No need to ask whether the three were perhaps dead serious? André E. was “only familiar with the verbally expressed xenophobia of the three people,” the court writes. “The conclusion that these statements about their willingness to put their xenophobia into practice and to kill people against xenophobic racist motives is far from being and was therefore not drawn by the accused E.” The court speaks of the man who had a tattoo on his stomach wishing to kill Jews and who had a manual for the racial war on his computer.
It was only in 2006 that contact became closer. André E.’s wife was already Zschäpe’s best friend. And then he could have assumed that his friends were probably robberies. On January 11, 2007, E. even gave Zschäpe to the police as his wife when she was asked to testify because of water damage. If he hadn’t lied to her, the NSU would have been exposed in 2007. However, according to the court, this help for Zschäpe and the NSU is time-barred on January 12, 2012. This is because the court believes that, after all these years, André E. still believed that he only supported a band of robbers, but not a terrorist group that killed people. Now the Federal Court of Justice has to decide whether this can be kept.