30 January 2011

Report from Day 12

Day 12 – 19 January 2011

Today, one of the crew members from Sri Lanka is supposed to give evidence but the court hasn't been able to track him down. The German embassy in Colombo doesn't believe that the authorities there will pass the request on. The court will pay for his flight to Hamburg.

So without the main witness, the judge decides to deal with a number of other things. One subject is the bail application of the defendant Yousuf  M., which can't be decided without the report from the Youth Court Aid. Incidentally, it's representative, Mr Koopmann, happens to drop in that day. Koopmann says, he generally supports bail for the accused but comes up with a number of concerns about the accommodation (not in a regular youth home because of the bad company there). He has had a number of conversations with the accused (with an interpreter) in order to ascertain his ability to distinguish right from wrong. He points to the civil war that has been going on in Somalia for 20 years and the general lawlessness there. Therefore his culpability is questionable. In addition, he was urged by adults to participate, which would have been difficult to withstand. But because the general situation in Somalia can't be compared to Germany, he doesn't think he is competent to make a judgement. Instead he recommends to consult a youth psychiatrist who is also familiar with the situation in Somalia.

Then one of the accused complains that, despite 3 pairs of glasses, he can't see properly. He was given the glasses following a medical examination - without a translator. The judge decides to assign him a translator as a 'seeing aid' when pictures or documents are shown.

Court closes early due to everything being out of schedule. During the afternoon, the bail applications will be discussed in camera.