NAfter this Thursday could actually have been over. Since May 2021, the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court has been dealing with the allegations against Lieutenant Franco A., 24 days of negotiations are on record. The member of the Bundeswehr, who allegedly wanted to carry out attacks disguised as a Syrian refugee, spoke at length. Witnesses have been heard, documents examined, letters read, experts heard, audio files played. One last witness was on the program for Thursday and small stuff, then A. would have had the opportunity to have the last word.
But things are different. As defenders announce that they want to submit applications for evidence. “Ten to fifteen pieces”, which causes incredulous looks. “It’s all been determined,” says the presiding judge. “We were so accurate. What have we been doing the last few months?”
He then turns to the accused to remind them what is at the heart of this process: the question of whether Franco A. had made the “firm decision” to commit an attack. “I can’t imagine you have unproven evidence of that.”
When is someone “determined”?
Has A. made this decision and thus fulfilled the requirements of paragraph 89a, the preparation of a serious act of violence that is dangerous to the state? The hurdles for this are high, and proof is difficult. When is someone “determined”?
The fact that Offenbacher A., among other things, hoarded ammunition, photographed the car of the foundation chairwoman Anetta Kahane in the parking garage in Berlin and made anti-Semitic and nationalist statements was not enough for the Higher Regional Court in 2018 to allow the federal prosecutor’s indictment to go to trial, despite its own follow-up investigations. The State Protection Senate, then under a different chairman, did not consider the suspicion to be sufficient. But the Federal Court of Justice overturned the decision.
In the past few months, the Higher Regional Court has compiled what contributes to the clarification. The attitude of the accused was often an issue, how far he had gone or might have gone further in their spirit. Also on Thursday. A Bundeswehr officer from Berlin, who was in the same battalion for a while and whose successor was to become As Freund Maximilian T., brother of his partner and today deputy chairman of Junge Alternative Sachsen-Anhalt, is called as a witness.
“The inhibition threshold in the army is low”
In the very first conversation, A. said that black people could never be German, he recalls. He then asked whether he himself, the witness, was not a “real” German because of his parents’ Turkish origins, whereupon A. remained silent. A. later said again and again that the “German race” was being wiped out by the influx of refugees. He had spoken of studies according to which immigration was disintegrating Europe and that “the Zionists and America” played a role. At a friend T.’s birthday party, A. claimed that the arrival of refugees in Germany was controlled by “Zionists and Americans” as revenge for the Second World War. It’s about “racial mixing” and the “extinction of the German race,” German politicians are to blame. A. never said you had to get active.
A. wants to prove that the former comrade wanted revenge because he couldn’t end up with As’s current partner. The defense questions the motives of the witness and accuses him of “stress tendencies”. But the questions only lead to the opposite: In the army, a “space” was created with so few people of color, says the witness, where so much racist stuff is said that he can’t go to superiors every time. The inhibition threshold is low. The realistic situation is that no superior would react to statements like those made by Franco A. These were well known in the battalion. “I would like to make this clear here,” says the witness, “I open my mouth against the right and against extremism. I’ll be very clear on that, and that’s the intention I came here with today.”
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