22 February 2012

Day 77 of the Trial

The trial has been separated today into two parts: part one consists of the 3 under-age defendants and 2 of the adults, the other part consists of the remaing 5 adults. The split was due to two factors. One was information received from the German police in India, who had confirmed that the full addresses of the crew of the dhow HudHud, which was allegedly used as the mothership, were known. This means that they can be called as witnesses. This has been applied for (repeatedly) by the lawyer of the oldest defendant. The other factor deciding the severance was a ruling by a higher court that the youngest of the accused would have to be released from custody by the end of March. 

For the judge there were two opposing needs: the need to finalize the trial for the under-age defendants by the end of March and the need for the Indian witnesses to be heard. Therefore the judge decided to reward two of the adult defendants, who had given full admissions early on in the trial, by assigning them to the group that will finish early. The trial for the remaining five will continue with the examination of the witnesses. We suspect that the reason why the four adults, who hadn't applied to have the Indian witneses heard have been grouped together with the one other  defendant is that the judge is expecting that the Inidan witnesses may contradict the stories of these four.  We say: FREEDOM to all!

When all seemed to have been settled, the lawyer of the youngest accused stated that his client had grown by 4 cm while in prison. This is significant because at the beginning of the trial, his 'official' age had been determined by dubious methods of the forensic institute of the Hamburg University Hospital, and was found to be 'fully grown'. Because fully grown people don't normally just grow by 4 cm, this indicates that the process of age assessment may have been flawed. This could have ramifications on the trial, because the court had operated on the assumption of the 'official' age of the defendant.  But maybe the judge will find a way to declare his body to have grown illegally and everything will be in order.