Magdeburg (dpa) – The story of the defendant in the trial of the right-wing terrorist attack in Halle is a story of failure and failure. The 28-year-old found no friends, no girlfriend, no job or anything else in his life that could have given meaning to his life.
On October 9, 2019, his attempt to murder as many Jews and foreigners as possible failed. He has openly described himself as a failure in this regard. Ultimately – it became clear no later than Wednesday – the man also failed in his plan to bring his crude and absurd conspiracy theories to the stage in the trial before the Higher Regional Court (OLG) Naumburg.
On October 9, 2019, a terrorist attempted to murder 51 people celebrating Yom Kippur, the highest Jewish holiday in the Halle synagogue. He failed at the massive door, then shot the passerby Jana L. and later in a kebab shop Kevin S. In the ensuing escape, he injured other people. 28-year-old German Stephan Balliet confessed to the crimes and justified them with anti-Semitic, racist and anti-feminist conspiracy theories.
The process for the OLG Naumburg has been running since July, but is taking place in Magdeburg due to lack of space. The federal prosecutor’s office has demanded a life sentence with subsequent protective custody and the determination of the special gravity of the guilt. After three days of pleas by the non-commissioned officer and the closing lecture of several hours, the defense pleaded Wednesday. In addition, the defendant was given the last word.
With a gloomy face, the otherwise expressionless Mansfelder, with bobbed hair, rose in front of the lectern and then launched a sweeping attack on the court, the media, society and politics. Out of all the suffering of himself and the world, the suspects constructed conspiracy theories against Jews and migrants. After more than three minutes, the 28-year-old denied the Holocaust again.
The additional prosecutor immediately responded with loud protest. “That is a criminal offense, he has to sit down again!”, Attorney Alexander Hoffmann exclaimed to chairman Ursula Mertens. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany.
Mertens then interrupted the defendant. “I explained that to you, don’t repeat that,” she said to him, who had denied the Holocaust several times. Then he broke off his last talk. Mertens interrupted the hearing, recorded the suspect’s statement at the request of the non-commissioned officer and subsequently offered him several times to continue his last words. But he didn’t want to.
In the end, the man had no more than three minutes of absurd conspiracy theories to counter the deeply moving closing lectures of the co-prosecutors. At first he showed no remorse, but made it clear again that he would continue to kill if he could. Earlier, public defender Hans-Dieter Weber argued Wednesday.
The lawyer expressed his deep condolences to the survivors and next of kin and distanced himself from the actions of his client. Unlike the Defendant, who spoke of a show trial, Weber emphatically praised Mertens’ behavior. She had a fair trial in the eyes of the world public. The judge rightly gave the victims and next of kin plenty of leeway, “without ever limiting or hindering the defense,” Weber said after the hearing.
Weber was not alone in the courtroom with this assessment – nearly all the secondary prosecutors attorneys and secondary plaintiffs who pleaded had praised Mertens in their closing lectures. The judge gave the victims their say in the proceedings, admitting almost every expert and witness requested by the secondary prosecutor.
Mertens always turned to the survivors and the next of kin during the proceedings and treated them with understanding and warmth. In the roughly five months of the trial, she showed what many survivors said they had previously missed in their dealings with the German state: empathy and tact.
Together with the four other judges, Mertens will now deliberate for about a week and a half and give a ruling on December 21. The prosecution and the accompanying prosecution asked for the maximum sentence, lawyer Weber demanded “a fair judgment”.