AOn the occasion of a detention review date, around 800 citizens demonstrated in front of the Stuttgart prison on Monday for the release of the founder of the “lateral thinker movement”, Michael Ballweg. The former entrepreneur has been in custody since the beginning of July. The public prosecutor’s office in Stuttgart is investigating him on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. Ballweg is represented by eight lawyers.
For months, members of the lateral thinker movement have been using the Telegram messenger service to mobilize for his release under the motto “Free Michael Ballweg”. There was also a demonstration with several hundred participants in front of the Reichstag in Berlin.
Ballweg’s lawyers had applied for the oral detention review date at the competent district court in Stuttgart because, from their point of view, there was no urgent suspicion and there was no risk of absconding. “Mr. Ballweg is said to have received financial benefits that he misused. That’s actually not possible because it was a question of donations for which there could have been no specific earmarking,” said Alexander Christ, who speaks for Ballweg’s lawyers. However, donations have to be taxed, which is why the public prosecutor’s office is apparently also examining criminal offenses under tax law.
A detention review can lead to the repeal of pre-trial detention, its continuation or temporary suspension. At the beginning of the appointment, Ballweg’s lawyers were able to view the investigation files in full, according to which he should have made income of 1.2 million euros for the lateral thinker movement and spent around one million euros on the nationwide demonstrations and events against the federal government’s corona protection measures to have. At the time of going to press, the court had not yet made a decision.
“Largest extra-parliamentary opposition movement”
The speakers at the demonstration described Ballweg as the “organizer of the largest extra-parliamentary opposition movement” in Germany. “They thought,” said one speaker, “they could intimidate us with the arrest, but they made us even stronger.” His lawyer said: “When I see how late we were given access to the files and the reasons why we were denied them, I can partly understand why my client is described as a political prisoner in the movement.”
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