01 November 2011

Court report 19 October 2011

The judge declares a witness untraceable, although his whereabouts are easy to find out. Meanwhile the public is excluded from part of the hearing because a court employee doesn't feel like checking the PA system.

As on the previous day, the court expects the Taipan crew member from Sri Lanka, who doesn't show up. The judge explains why none of the German representations in Sri Lanka have managed to serve the court summons to the Taipan crew member. He is currently employed on a ship named the 'Dubai Star', the whereabouts of the ship can be obtained through a simple google search, but supposedly the name of the shipping company is unknown. Therefore the summons can't be served. It seems strange that the German justice system would be unable to find out the owner of a freight ship. But given that earlier in the year the court had declared a Somali city with a population of 100,000 non-existent, maybe it's not surprising.
Maybe the real reason is different. Nine of the defence counsel had already stated that they didn't require the witness, so one could think that if the witness is difficult to find, that would be the end of the story. However, the witness had been interviewed by the German police in Dubai and there is a written statement from him. The defence had objected to that statement being used in court because it was taken under dubious circumstances. If the court declares the witness to be untraceable, then this statement can be used in court. So maybe, the court doesn't really have an interest in finding the witness. One of the defence counsel indicated that, although they didn't require the witness, they wanted the court to make an effort to find him.

In the meantime the PA system fails. The PA is essential for the public to hear anything because the public is separated from the rest of the court room by a glass wall. During the morning break several people complain to the court staff, that they can't hear anything. Nothing happens, until one of the lawyers raises the issue and points out that the public have effectively been excluded from the hearing. The judge is dumbfounded and hesitantly asks if the whole day would have to be repeated. Luckily, no one in the room wants that to happen. So the judge retires to consult the law books. When he comes back he says that there are no rules for this situation, so he decides to ask each member of the public how much they understood. The result of this little referendum is mixed, so the judge announces that everything is in order.