Two criminal investigation officers were summoned as witnesses – one from the Zwickau police, the other from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) – who had discussions (not interrogations) with Beate Zschäpe in November 2011 and can give insight on the otherwise silent defendant. The first witness did not answer some questions regarding the method of interrogation or the presence of other agencies/departments invoking the fact that he didn’t have permission from his department to testify on these. This decision was criticized by the co-plaintiffs and endorsed by the federal prosecutor’s office (GBA).
The session begins at 9:45. André E.’s and Holger G.’s defense attorneys are represented by proxies today.
First, a detective with the Zwickau police department, André P., is examined. He is said to have interviewed Beate Zschäpe in November 2011. Götzl reads aloud P.’s ‘permission to give testimony’ [this is a description of what subject he may testify about]. Initially P. testifies without being asked questions. Zschäpe turned herself in on Tuesday the 8th of November 2011 in Jena and went through fingerprinting and photographing there as well as providing clothing samples to forensics. Afterward, she was sent to Zwickau for jurisdictional reasons. P. himself was arranged to perform the interrogation of the defendant. Ms. H. from the Baden-Wuerttemberg police and a typist were also present. After being informed of her rights, Zschäpe said she would not provide any information regarding facts and circumstances. Then she stated her personal details and the interrogation ended shortly thereafter. He was shocked that Zschäpe’s lawyer in Jena, Liebtrau, was not present at the interrogation, but it was agreed that the lawyer would be present the next morning at the investigative judge’s. Then Zschäpe, officer H. and he went to his office and waited there until Zschäpe was picked up. He wrote a memo regarding the discussion they had there. In the following examination the primary topic is this conversation.
Presiding judge Manfred Götzl requests that P. continue to report about the conversation. P. explains that Zschäpe was uneasy in the police jumpsuit she wore. Otherwise she was attentive and could follow the conversation. He told her beforehand that he would right a memo about the conversation, but she said that was okay. They respected her wish to not provide details regarding the facts and didn’t ask any questions about her accused arson. It was a relaxed conversation. Zschäpe explained in few sentences: how she grew up, how she had more of a relationship with her grandmother than with her mother, how life in Zwickau was and that the Uwes were her family.
He could still remember one thing that he didn’t write down. He asked the question if there were any crimes that needed to be stopped or were still in planning. Zschäpe said no. One noticed from her appearance that she had been traveling for a few days and was happy that “the business is over.” She also said that when she signed the protocol from the interrogation, she signed her own name for the first time since a long time.
When asked by Götzl if she had said where she had been when she was moving around, P. said that he thought she said Braunschweig: “There must have been an incident there and she assumed that the police already knew about it.” She wanted to see her friends but didn’t find a hideout. P.: “I wrote that she travelled by train and had used a train-card and that she also said so.” She said she had been traveling for six days, but there are only five days between Friday the 4th and Tuesday the 8th of November. Otherwise she had said that she had called the Uwes’ mothers and informed them that their sons were dead. She did not say, however, how she got the information about the deaths of the Uwes. P. admits he cannot say exactly how it was determined that she was traveling for a while. That was just his impression, she appeared stressed and restless.
Götzl confronts P. more intensely about the memo regarding the conversation. In P.’s answers, certain formulations become more common, like “Then she also said that.”
When confronted by Götzl, P. said that Zschäpe had described herself as “grandma’s girl.” However, he cannot speak about her relationship to her mother and grandmother today because he also interviewed Zschäpe’s mother and grandmother and as a result can’t keep it separate. Regarding the parents of Mundlos and Böhnhardt she said, “both Uwes were well cared for by their parents and it is unclear to her why or how the Uwes became who they were.” She liked cats and asked what had happened to her cats. He was able to tell her that the cats were both alive and were brought to an animal shelter.
He asked her if she intended to kill herself and that “and there she expressed that she had thought about it, but not in the context of the arson in the apartment, rather in the days she was traveling: She didn’t intend to get rid of herself that way, rather first later.” Götzl then indicated to a passage which said that she brought the cats downstairs before the fire. P.: “If I wrote that down that Ms. Zschäpe certainly said it. ‘I gave the cats to someone after I set the fire,’ or something like that.”
Heer, Zschäpe’s defense attorney briefly complained that the witness should more clearly formulate what his own memories are. P. says that he read the memo in preparation, but he couldn’t “rattle it off from memory.” P. continues: “And when you contradict me with the text, then it is exactly like what is stated in the written memo.” When asked by Götzl about the relationship to the Uwes, P. said that Zschäpe explained that she wasn’t forced to do anything. In response to reproaches regarding the formulations in the memo, according to which she had stated that she was never forced to do anything and that she would speak to this after consulting with her lawyer, P. says.: “Then Ms. Zschäpe had – without the need for me to remember the exact formulation from memory – than she said it like I wrote it.” Then an argument begins between Götzl and attorney Heer, who objects to the witness’s answers and suggests, “in the interest of all the trial participants,” to clarify what the witness remembers. Götzl refuses to tolerate being interrupted. Heer says he wants to place a motion. Federal prosecutor Diemer requests Heer stop interrupting. After Sturm, another of Zschäpe’s defense attorneys, joins in Götzl order a break at 10:44 and begins again at 11:00. After the break he wants to continue with the examination, but Heer cuts in: Götzl is brushing his motion aside. Götzl says he will proceed as Heer would like and will come back to the issue.
P. says he got the impression from Zschäpe that she would make a statement about the arson. This did not happen. He couldn’t remember the exact wording. He wrote the memo together with officer H. the next day after Zschäpe appeared before the investigating judge. He didn’t take any notes during the conversation. The charge made against Zschäpe at the interrogation was serious arson in the house on Frühlingstraße 26 through the use of combustive materials. The conversation was right after the interrogation and had lasted about half an hour, probably a few minutes longer. During the conversation a colleague came in and asked Zschäpe for consent to take a saliva sample. Zschäpe gave her consent and the saliva sample. When asked about the atmosphere during the conversation, he says: “And I don’t want to say that it was a relaxed conversational atmosphere, but it was also no sequence of questions and answers; that’s not how it was. That shows itself in how Ms. Zschäpe herself asked about the welfare of the cats. It was a conversation, not an interrogation.” The conversation was, however, certainly initiated by the police officers. he couldn’t remember the order of topics in the discussion, the same with Zschäpe’s gestures or facial expressions, but they smoked and ate. Götzl asks P. about the memo, where it says Zschäpe had concerns about the conversation being recorded. P. says he informed her that she would not be audio or visually recorded, but that the conversation would be written down. Apparently, that did not bother her.
Next the co-plaintiffs ask questions. First is attorney Pinar. He asks questions about how P. learned that Zschäpe was coming and what information he had at hand. P. says he found out from the police leader. Aside from that there was an arrest warrant from the Zwickau district court. He also had some information about the Uwes, but doesn’t know what anymore. He was informed, like every officer in the investigation squad, about the circumstances of the case. There would have also been case reviews. When asked, he said he could not name the names of the participants in the discussions or provide information about the size of the squad. That’s not covered in his ‘permission to give testimony.’ According to P., these questions must be posed to the leader of the investigation squad, if necessary. Pinar wants to know if the information passed along in these reviews were written down. P. says that the typical procedure is that the facts of the matter are stated, each takes notes and then the tasks are split up. The course of events of such reviews would never be found in an investigation file. He uses a notebook, but would need to check if it still exists. Pinar asks if he could do that in the next break, which P. however refused. Pinar: “I could also place a seizure request.” Götzl says that right now the proceeding is about asking questions. Then the conversation turned to what knowledge P. had of other charges against Zschäpe. P. says that the weapon of the “slain police officer” was found in the burnt down motorhome. That’s why Ms. H. participated in the interrogation. She was a participant in the “Special Commission ‘Parking lot’” to solve the murder of the police officer. She would have been able to make the allegation – if it ever came to Zschäpe providing details about these circumstances – that the police officer’s weapon was found in the motor home. Pinar says he contradicted himself; he had just said that he couldn’t remember what information he had about the Uwes. P.: “Information about the motorhome was available to me, but understand me: it is impossible for me to give a recitation of every piece of information here. I can’t remember informational details.” Pinar asks P. when he became aware that Zschäpe was being investigated for other charges, for example the charge that she was a member of a terrorist organization. P. says he can’t concretely name a day, but that this charge was also made after the BKA took over the case (on the Saturday after Zschäpe’s interrogation). The charge of participating in the slaying of ten people also came up subsequently.
Attorney Thiel asks amongst other things about P.’s testimony that Zschäpe was surprised that the Uwes became who they were. Thiel: “That’s incredibly important and I’m shocked that we didn’t find that out earlier.” P.: “The factual connection here is that the Uwes developed into criminals.” Thiel: “Were those Zschäpe’s words?” P.: “I don’t remember anymore if she said criminal or not. It was just the case that Ms. Zschäpe formulated it such that she couldn’t explain why they developed the way the did, despite having caring homes.” P. can’t remember if Zschäpe said she had promised to inform the Uwes’ parents. In reference to the cats that Zschäpe saved, Thiel wants to know if P. pointed out that there were people in the house. P. answered in the negative. Zschäpe didn’t want to speak to the circumstances of the case and that wish was respected.
The lunch break lasted until 13:05. Attorney Kolloge asks if any other agencies participated during the team discussion before the interrogation of Zschäpe or at other later conversations. P. answers in the negative, only police officers participated. After attorney Lucas, attorney Narin asks when P. first heard about the motorhome fire in Eisenach. P. says: “When I was called in on Monday morning and briefed, I was informed about it.” The identities of the people were also shared with him in the scope of the briefing at this time. When asked if other police agencies participated, P. did not answer and referred to his ‘permission to give testimony’ [Once again, this falls outside the scope of what he is permitted to testify about by his department leader]. When asked by attorney Lunnebach, P. says that he is employed by the department of life and health crimes. There is also a political crimes squad, but he doesn’t work there. The decision that the interrogation would be performed by himself and Ms. H. was made by the leadership of the investigation squad. Lunnebach wants to know why he decided not to write down the question about other crimes and Zschäpe’s answer to it in the memo. P.: “Because I wrote it from memory with Ms. H. on Wednesday and I worked on it in preparation for this trial.” The decision to write the memo was his own. Particularly he wrote it at the arraignment on the Wednesday after the interrogation, but not because Zschäpe didn’t testify there. Lunnebach wants to know if Ms. H. and P. are normally a two-man team. P.: “I won’t give any detailed information about that because that has to do with police tactics, but I think I can say that I have also performed other investigations with Ms. H.”
Then there was an intense outburst from federal prosecutor Diemer. Questions should be about the facts of the case; it’s about the five defendants and the charged crimes. Götzl tells Lunnebach that he is straying from the subject. Lunnebach then says that P. has said that Zschäpe said she was “not” forced and in the memo it says “never.” P. says what’s in the memo is correct. Attorney Erdal asks if the Office of Constitutional Protection (VS) got in touch with him. P. answers in the negative. Attorney Behnke asks if P. knew from Zschäpe at the time of the first interrogation that in Döbeln on the 1st of November 2011 an Iraqi citizen was executed with four gunshots and if his department had investigated it. P. says he can’t answer the question because he can’t remember it.
Attorney Bliwier asks for how long was the officer H. in the department before the interrogation began. Now chief prosecutor Greger from the federal prosecutor’s office intervenes; the question doesn’t have to do with the matter at hand, but Götzl says it’s about the situation of the interrogation. Greger responds that the way the conversation preceded has been fully presented, we’re talking about crimes. Bliwier: “I consider the question absolutely essential, in particular because one of the interrogation officers didn’t belong to the department. I can also ask when they saw Ms. H. for the first time. A Ms. H. came to the department and no one knew who she was.” P.: “I think I can answer the question. In the run-up to the interrogation we had time to talk to each other.” Bliwier follows up; when Ms. H appeared in the department, was Zschäpe already there or was she first notified afterward. P.: “I’m not going to make a statement on the subject of exactly when Ms. H or another unit were pulled in on this weekend. I don’t have the permission for it.” Bliwier: “In your judgment, did Ms. H. already know that Zschäpe had surrendered herself to the police or did you inform Ms. H. of that?” P.: “Ms. H. is, easy to understand, a member of the investigation group and so she would have also know that Ms. Zschäpe turned herself in.” Bliwier says that’s not in the case file. According to P. the substance of the conversation before the interrogation was how the interrogation should be executed. Götzl prohibited the question of what exactly was discussed because it belongs to the category of police tactics. Bliwier responds: “That’s the normal category, your honor! I’m only asked if it was the intention that it was restricted to the arson charge. Did you talk about that?”
P. states that he can’t say anything about it. Once again Bliwier asks if it was a conscious decision between P. and H. that the Kiesewetter charge wasn’t mentioned or an oversight. Prosecutor Diemer objects to the question. P. says again that he is not allowed to discuss it. Bliwier considers it refusal to give evidence and asks Götzl to hold the witness to answering the question. It’s about a pivotal part of the interrogation. Diemer: “Perhaps you could ask the co-plaintiff to tell us what elucidation this will bring. Its not at all clear to me where he is going.” He objects to the question. Bliwier requests that it is recorded in the minutes that the witness refused to answer the question by saying he doesn’t have permission to give this evidence.
Next, the defense teams ask questions. First is attorney Heer. He wants to know if P. can remember that Zschäpe asked Ms. H. where she is from because she spoke differently. P. can’t remember. P. says he and H. introduced themselves as investigating officers but didn’t specify her role. He can’t remember Zschäpe’s body odor, but they did speak about the fact that it was unpleasant to her that she smelled like sweat. If she had wished, she would have been able to shower. These questions are about the Zschäpe’s ability to be interviewed. P. says he assumed that Zschäpe could follow the questioning. Then Heer asks what P. learned about the rights of the accused in his education. Chief federal prosecutor Weingarten objects to the question; this is not about an interrogation of the witness. Götzl calls for a break.
Afterward Heer goes through the individual rights and obligations of the accused and asks if P. is familiar with them, which is objected to twice by the federal prosecutors. Finally, he asks P. if the defendant is obliged to provide information if its not in regard to concrete charges. P. says the accused has the right to say nothing, except in regard to personal data. Heer responds, then why did P. still have a discussion with Zschäpe. It just happened; they smoked and sat and chatted. Heer wants to know from P. why he initiated a discussion. P.: “The questions were not about the arson, the motorhome or the discovered weapon, rather general subjects, her family situation, her life together with the two Uwes.” Then the conversation turns to taking a saliva sample. P. says he is certain his college informed Zschäpe of her rights, but he doesn’t have a concrete memory of it. Stahl, one of Zschäpe’s defense attorneys, asked P. about the potential allegation of discovering a weapon in the motorhome and in what function would Zschäpe have been interrogated about it. P. says if it had occurred that she was accused in that regard, Zschäpe would have been asked to provide details. According to P., in that event either he or H. would have asked questions about the weapon found in the motorhome. It was clear that these three people had lived in an apartment together. Zschäpe was not accused of other crimes. From the perspective of the police, she was only suspected of having committed the arson on Frühlingstraße. P.: “I would not have made the allegation that she is guilty of participating in the slaying of Kiesewetter. But it could have been: ‘why was a police officer’s weapon found in the motorhome of her dead friends.’” After Sturm finished asking questions, Stahl asks if the conversation really was just coincidence or was it a so-called informational conversation, in which other linking factors became evident.” According to P., the conversation and the direction it went was coincidence; connections, for example, to the Uwes first came out in the discussion.
Finally professor Saß, Zschäpe’s psychological expert, asked questions. P. answered that Zschäpe was not distinctly drowsy, she could concentrate well, but was perhaps a bit “jittery.” He did not notice any indications of delirium or any trouble finding the right words or speaking errors. He does not consider himself to be in a position to provide details on her state of mind. There was no differentiation between the two Uwes. Their deaths were also not discussed, outside of the conversation regarding telling their mothers.
Götzl asks attorney Bliwier if his questions have been resolved. Bliwier: “Yes, my desire was to clarify if it was ploy by the police to not mention their suspicions. My question is now resolved.”
Briefly, the conversation turns to attorney Pinar’s suggestion that P. provide his notebook,\ if he can find it. That should happen before the witness is dismissed. Prosecutor Diemer in response: “that is a tremendous insinuation, that the witness would leave the hall in order to leave things unfinished. Just make a request!” Götzl interrupts the examination of P., who will testify on another subject at a later point in the trial. Attorney Heer objects to the admission of P.’s testimony because of alleged violations of the code of criminal procedure.
After a break, attorney Pinar reads aloud to the court her request to add the witness P.’s notebook to the case file. In a group of legal proceedings where so many files have disappeared, all available pieces of evidence should be gathered, especially because the defendant is using her right to remain silent. Attorney Stahl says that nothing will come of this request because the witness stated he didn’t write any notes during the conversation.
Next up is the witness L., criminal police investigator with the BKA. Götzl reads aloud the subjects about which he is allowed to testify.
L. states that on the 13th of November 2011 he received the assignment to accompany Zschäpe from the Chemnitz-Reichenhain correctional facility to the investigative court at the BGH in Karlsruhe together with police sergeant S. from Saxon. At 15:50 Zschäpe was handed over to them at the Chemnitz correctional facility. He informed Zschäpe of her rights and then they drove from the facility to the airport, where a helicopter would arrive. On the way to the airport, they conversed with her. She appeared calm during the drive. He asked her if she continued to have suicidal thoughts. Zschäpe answered in the negative. He also clarified to her that everything they spoke about would have to be written down. Then they flew to Karlsruhe, but they had to stop at 18:20 in Baden-Baden because of poor weather. While traveling, it would not have been possible to have a discussion. They arrived in Karlsruhe at 19:00, and had to wait until they could appear before the court. S., Zschäpe and he sat in the lobby and talked. From the end of the hearing till the disclosure of the decision there was between a quarter and a half hour to converse. Zschäpe said that she didn’t turn herself in in order to say nothing. She spoke about attorney Liebtrau from Jena, whom she chose more or less randomly. He’s a defense attorney who isn’t connected to the ‘scene,’ and she wouldn’t allow herself to be defended by one who is. L. reported that Zschäpe spoke about the relationship of the three, that they got around in Zwickau primarily with bicycle. In other parts of the conversation they spoke about how it was already clear to her, as well as Mundlos and Böhnhardt that they would get caught one day. She had emphasized that she is a cat lover and would have also happily had a dog, but was worried that it would attract attention when they registered it. According to L.’s assessment, one would have to have thought a lot in advance about how one creates the story of one’s own fictive character when one is underground. Then they spoke about the fact that she promised Böhnhardt and Mundlos something in case they don’t come home. L.: “I took that to mean if they died.” She said that she would call both of their parents. At the end she also stated that she had a hard time while she was underground to make real friends: “really, true friends.” What she meant with that remained open.
After the quarter hour they went to her judicial appearance in front of the federal judge. Zschäpe mentioned that she was “facts person,” she needs facts in order to develop an opinion and she values differing opinions. She also listened to his argument motivating her to give testimony at the appearance. Then she repeated that should wouldn’t give any testimony. He had been able to observe her and was shocked that Zschäpe spoke so emotionlessly about herself. When the conversation turned to the fact that Böhnhardt and Mundlos were both dead she remained emotionless. Subsequently he brought Zschäpe to the correctional institute in Köln-Ossendorf by car.
Later he received the assignment to visit Zschäpe on the 26th of November. The meeting was about the placement of her cats that were living at the time at the Zwickau animal shelter and what should happen to the valuables from the basement of the house in Zwickau. He also brought her glasses to her. She was happy about the glasses. Regarding the cats she said she didn’t want to make a decision, since it would be a burden for them if one could make the connection from her residence to the cats. Regarding the valuables she appeared to be astonished because she had thought that valuables that were acquired as a result of a crime were not considered personal property. According to L., the promise to call the parents of each of the Uwes came up again. From this reaction he deduced that the promise must have been made before the bank robbery on the 4th of November.
Then Götzl begins to examine the witness. He asks amongst other things if Zschäpe asked any further questions when L. spoke with her. L. says he tried to portray to Zschäpe why it would be good to take responsibility and make a statement “and, in principle, wipe the slate clean.” He also described to her how it was being reported on very negatively in the press and that she would be charged with the most serious crimes and the questioning of the defendant create the opportunity for her to portray how she sees things. He doesn’t know anymore how the conversation they had while waiting for her to appear before the judge was initiated. He only knows that his colleague shared the baby carrots she had with Zschäpe. In these few minutes he tried to start a conversation with Zschäpe in order to feel out if she was ready for a hearing. They spoke about whether it would make sense for him to participate in a potential hearing. In particular he asked how it came about that she called Böhnhardt and Mundlos’s parents. It’s not clear today how Zschäpe learned about Mundlos and Böhnhardt’s death. Götzl refers L. to a part of his memo where it says that Zschäpe “most recently didn’t respond to the name Beate Zschäpe even at home.” L. said in court, however, that it was “particularly in recent times.” L. says he is not sure if the word “particularly” came up. However she did not tell him any aliases that she went by. According to L., he can’t repeat the exact wording any more of the statement that they would get caught eventually, but it had referred to them as a group, as three people getting caught.
Zschäpe said she hadn’t had contact with her family since 1998, but that she found out where her mother and grandmother live through publicly accessible sources. According to L., that was probably in the telephone book. Then court discussed, amongst other things, that he urged her to consider the state’s witness regulations mentioned in §46 StGB [criminal penal code]. Regarding Zschäpe’s behavior during the conversation in the penitentiary in Köln-Ossendorf, L. says he can remember that she was sociable and that it didn’t bother her when he asked questions. She wanted to talk, when it wasn’t about the case. He had the feeling that she was interested in talking. The discussion lasted almost 40 minutes, as can be read in the memo.
Götzl asks L., if he could also take further questions tomorrow. L. answered in the affirmative; he brought extra socks! The session ended at 16:30.
Co-Plaintiff representative Scharmer reviews:
“The Testimony of the interrogating officers incriminated Zschäpe. First off, it became clear that Zschäpe set the fire through the description of how she saved the cats and the clarification that she did not try and commit suicide in the fire. She explained about her going underground, her independence from the Uwes and her knowledge of their deaths. That suggests that she, as an independent member of the group, made essential contributions to the crimes, which in turn strengthens the charge of complicity.”