The trial of an arsonist who attacked left house projects has begun in Frankfurt. A political motive is not addressed.
FRANKFURT / MAIN taz | Before the first day of the trial, the police officer Joachim S. removes the handcuffs. S., 47 years old, is a short man with thinning hair, glasses with thick glasses and looks rather harmless. For years it is said to have spread fear and horror among residents of left-wing residential projects and operators of alternative scene get-togethers.
Since this Friday S. has to answer for serious arson at the Frankfurt district court. It is said to have detonated 16 times between December 2018 and December 2019, putting people at risk several times.
Joachim S. has been in custody for a year. The police had observed him over a long period of time and found him lighting the fire again. In 2018, he had already been arrested twice by eyewitnesses or passers-by in connection with arson attacks. Once the police even found fire accelerators in his backpack. For an urgent suspicion and thus for an arrest warrant, the evidence is not sufficient, said the taz public prosecutor’s office at the end of 2018.
Those affected by arson attacks were already criticizing what they saw as the slack investigations. At least after that the surveillance began. S. continued and – under police surveillance – started 15 more fires. He was finally arrested in December 2019.
Possible political motive not investigated
Activists from the left-wing scene in the Rhine-Main area also make him responsible for other arson attacks against left-wing housing projects and alternative cultural centers. On Friday, a good dozen of them demonstrated in front of the courthouse against “right-wing terror in the state, authorities and on the streets”. They criticize the judiciary for ignoring the possible political background to the arson.
There is no question of a political background in this process. In the indictment there is not a word in the indictment about the character of the targets or the possible political motives of the accused. Although S. had also donated twice to the AfD.
The defendant does not want to say anything about the arson attacks themselves. He dramatically depicts his difficult childhood and youth. The mother collapses on the day he starts school and dies of cancer a little later. The father, a college dropout and finally unemployed, drinks and beats his two sons. He suffered from loneliness and was teased because of his slim stature and glasses, says Joachim S.
Up to 5 liters of beer a day
After graduating from high school with excellent results, he studied physics in Darmstadt, but he too has long since become a drinker. “8 to 10 pints of beer every day”. In the mornings he is busy with his hangover, skipping lectures and suffering from memory loss. He passes the intermediate diploma, then drops out.
At around the same time he appears for the first time as an arsonist. In 2002 he tried three times to set fire to the same house in Darmstadt. It was a “dream house” for him, he would have loved to be at home in such a house, he was ashamed of his father’s neglected apartment, he confessed to the court at the time. Since then, S. has had a criminal record.
The defendant’s hateful relationship with the left-wing scene is only briefly discussed on this first day of the trial. When Joachim S. speaks about his “outing”. Activists had publicly accused him of arson attacks. During the night, a paving stone had become through his window. “When you experience that, you get the tremors,” he says. Nobody asks him whether he has seen leftists as enemies since then or has already seen them as opponents before.
Instead, it is initially about the arson attack on the KUZ cultural center in December 2018 in Hanauer Metzgerstraße. At that time the accused was at the scene. He admits that. Nobody saw it when it was ignited. At that time witnesses had given him on the Hanauer Freiheitsplatz. A 30-year-old witness said in court on Friday that a bottle of alcohol rolled out of his backpack. “At that time I thought: My God, the man wanted to set us on fire.”
Several other attacks on left-wing projects have not yet been the subject of the indictment. “The investigation continues,” explains the prosecutor.