26 November 2011

Court Report Day 59 – 23 November 2011

The day starts with a rather intrusive photographer from the tabloid paper “Bildzeitung” taking close-up photos of the accused before the trial starts. As soon as he has left, three defendants complain that that neither they nor their lawyers had been informed and that they do not want their photos taken. An incident earlier this year, where the brother of one of the accused had been murdered as a result of a newspaper report about the trial, shows that their concerns are justified. The judge replies, saying that the photographer had been given permission under the condition that the faces would be pixilated – a rule he had set very early on in the trial, and which has not always been obeyed by newspapers. One of the lawyers asks whether the name signs on the tables would be pixilated as well.

But then the judge surprises everyone by announcing that was considering to bring in a witness from Mogadishu, after already having declined an application by the defence to do so. The witness could testify that one of the accused had been press-ganged, according to the defence. The judge reports about a long telephone conversation he has had with a Somali professor in Oslo about the safest way to get the witness out of Somalia and to Hamburg.

Finally, the lawyer for one of the younger defendants applies to hear the psychiatrist of the youth prison, who could testify that it is impossible to treat the psychological problems of the defendant over such a length of time by medication only. The lawyer also states that the foreigners authority had give a written assurance that the under-age defendants would receive a temporary residence permit, if released. So the judge's assessment that they would be released in to an illegal status was rubbished.