31 August 2011

The torture continues

Report from 31. August 2011

The Norwegian Somalia expert Stieg Hansen gave evidence, for the fifth time.

While he was interviewed by one of the defence lawyers, one of the defendants complained about pain in his ears and took his headphones off. The judge immediately demanded he put them back on and sit so that “it is apparent that you are listening”. The defendant then started crying.

The judge went as far as claiming that the continuing interruptions were also disturbing the defence lawyer. However, the lawyer refused to continue the interview. The lawyer for the defendant with ear pain then argued that all of the accused were suffering from psycho-somatic disorders due to the length of the trial and that it was not sufficient for them to be examined by a general practitioner with no experience in psychology or psychiatry, who then finds them fit for trial.
Still, that is exactly what happened – the defendant was led to the doctor and after a lengthy break, the judge received a phone call and announced that the defendant had bee found fit to stand trial. For the next day, a practitioner would be present all the time.

But the young Somali had not just complained about ear-aches but also didn't want to wear his head phones anymore because “nothing made any sense”. The proceedings were taking so long, he couldn't continue anymore.

Hansen was then asked whether he would consider the Somali diaspora in Germany to be 'criminal'. This was in reference to the judge declining the applications for bail with the argument that Somalis in Germany could aid and abet the flight of the accused. Judge Steinmetz took issue with that and declared that there had been no intention to criminalize anyone, to which the lawyer replied that the only way to prove that was to grant bail.

Hansen will appear again on Friday, 2. September.