09 May 2011

Report from 11 April 2011

Weapons live and in colour, another police witness, applications by the defence and court decisions.

First up, a display of weapons that were found on the Taipan and which had been shown on photos: RPGs, AK47s, pistols , ammunition and cell phones. Every item is held up for everyone to see, especially the cell phones, which appear to be very dangerous. No one has any questions so all the guns are packed away again, a process for which the court room has to be cleared.

Then the defence raises an objection against the ruling not to obtain a psychological expertise about one of the defendants. The court had ruled that it had sufficient expert knowledge, therefore no outside expert was needed. The defence questions that. The defendant's psychological condition has been worsening.

Then another witness from the German federal criminal office (BKA), Karsten Klenke, 37. He inspected the Taipan together with officer Walter, who had already given evidence. There is talk about damage to aerials and a box of spark plugs (the argument being that anyone who carries a spare set of spark plugs obviously doesn't have “high tech equipment”, as the prosecution alleges).

The prosecution then asks whether Klenke had tested for copper residue near the bullet holes (which apparently indicates the type of ammunition). Klenke keeps saying that he was there to do a photo documentation, not a forensic analysis. It remains unclear why he took photos of some things but not of others.

After lunch the judge announces his decision about the admissibility of the statements that some of the accused made on the Tromp. In short: the fact that the accused weren't told their rights is a violation of German, Dutch and international law. However, since this took place on a Dutch ship, the Dutch courts would have to decide about that. In German law, these statements can nevertheless be introduced into the proceedings until objections are raised. This is further complicated by the fact that each defendant can only object to their own statement being used, not to that of the others, although the statements can affect all defendants.

The defence objects to this ruling and the judge acknowledges that this issue is utterly important and therefore the chamber will consider the objection.

In the meantime one defence counsel noted that his client has been unable to follow the proceedings for the last hour and is refusing to put his head phones back on. The judge finds this unacceptable and declines this modest request for a break from the barrage of legal jargon, which no doubt would have been impossible to translate into Somali. This despite the fact that the guards have been allowed to sleep through the afternoon.