24 March 2011

Report from Day 21 – 23 March 2011

A lesson in weaponry with cream. The front is where it looks like the back.

Expert witness on weapons: M. Bernstein from the Federal Criminal Office (BKA)

Bernstein had been charged with evaluating the photos of the Taipan with regards to the type of guns and ammunition used. In particular, the court is interested in establishing whether the accused used an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) to attack the Taipan.

He explains the details of an RPG: 85 mm diameter, maximum distance 300 m, velocity 140 m/sec. It consists of a head and the engine, which have to be screwed together. The front end is the piece that looks like it's the rear end. He explains how it works: “The effect of the head hitting metal is similar to a water jet hitting a pot of cream.”

The judge refers to the statement of the first officer of the Taipan who had stated that he saw an RPG enter the bridge through one window and exit through another, and wants to know whether that is possible. Bernstein considers it a remote possibility, but not likely. But after looking at a photo of the Taipan taken from a small boat, he states that, due to the distance and the angle, it would have been almost impossible to launch an RPG at the bridge in a way that it would enter and exit in the way described. As the interview progresses, Bernstein sees more and more reasons why it is unlikely that an RPG was fired: the type of damage, the number of bullet holes, etc.

After the witness is finished, the defence submits two applications, which are both declined. One is for a psychological expertise for one of the defendants and the other to reject the use of the statements made by some of the defendants while they were in custody of the Dutch navy. The judge always finds a reason to reject applications by the defence. Maybe the defence lawyers should adopt reverse psychology and apply for the opposite of what they want.

Coming up:
28.3. Witness  Höckert from the ship owner company re. the damage on the Taipan.
30.3. Witness Feldhusen, helicopter commander
11.4. Witness Klenke
13.4. Witness Mathies re. living conditions in Somalia