Frankfurt / Main (dpa) – In the trial of the violent death of Kassel district president Walter Lübcke, the lead defendant Stephan Ernst’s lawyer has demanded a conviction for manslaughter – not murder.
The verdict must be ‘proportionate but also acceptable’, said lawyer Mustafa Kaplan in his final lecture before the Higher Regional Court (OLG) Frankfurt.
In the indictment, Ernst is accused of shooting the CDU politician Lübcke on the terrace of his house in June 2019. Kaplan disagreed with the assertion that it was murder, with features of malice and basic motivation. Since the shot was not ambushed: “The act should not be committed anonymously, Mr Lübcke should see it,” said the defense attorney.
The federal prosecutor’s office has called for the 47-year-old German to be sentenced to life in prison for murder, determining the particular gravity of the guilt and subsequent protective custody – the highest possible penalty in German criminal law. It is based on an extreme right-wing motif.
The defense lawyer said: “The murder of Mr. Lübcke was a political target for Mr. Ernst.” Ernst moved personally and professionally in an environment where hatred for refugees and foreigners was “normal”; the hatred of foreigners was the only unifying element in the relationship with his alcoholic and abusive father.
Should the State Security Senate nevertheless decide in favor of a murder conviction, the lawyer requested that no particular seriousness of the guilt be established. The fact that Lübcke, as district president, was a representative of the state does not justify the determination of the particular gravity of the guilt, nor do the necessary characteristics apply – even if Lübcke was “of course a special person to his family and friends”. .
Kaplan continued to return in the role of Markus H., accused of complicity, a former colleague and friend of Stephan Ernst. “I personally believe my client wholeheartedly that he and H. planned and carried out the murder of Mr. Lübcke,” said the lawyer. At this point he showed himself to be one with the widow’s lawyer and Lübcke’s two sons, who appear as joint plaintiffs in the proceedings: H. should be convicted as an accomplice, even though there are no DNA traces or other evidence. of his presence at the crime scene, just the statement seriously.
But there are DNA traces or a confession for those accused of complicity “only on rare occasions”. Also in the NSU trial in Munich it was no different in the case of Beate Zschäpe, who was accused of tenfold complicity, emphasized the Cologne lawyer, who had been a co-prosecutor in the NSU trial.
Neither Ernst nor his lawyers had any personal interest in whether H. would be convicted or acquitted, Kaplan assured, while H. made notes of the final lecture in his stead. It would have been easiest for Ernst to simply repeat the statements made in his June 2019 confession to the police, in which he described himself as a lone perpetrator. “But it wouldn’t have been true.”
A second confession, which described the death as an accident with the murder weapon in H.’s hand, was nothing more than a “smear” directed by Ernst’s ex-lawyer, Kaplan said. On the other hand, admission to court is true after H. was also on the scene.
Kaplan called on the court to consider the different behavior of the two defendants: “One lets in and shows regret, the other is silent and grins.” Ernst is clear that it has become known in the violent right-wing extremist scene that he has made statements and is considered a “traitor” there. Failure to take into account his conduct in the judgment could have a “fatal effect” on other proceedings where the suspect would consider giving evidence against the extremist environment and helping to clarify the situation.
And the truth, Ernst owes it to the Lübcke family, to whom he sat opposite each other after trial day after trial and to whom he had promised to tell the truth about the last moments in Walter Lübcke’s life. Kaplan secured a promise not only valid for the duration of the proceedings: “Mr. Ernst’s promise will last the rest of his life.”
Meanwhile Ernst sat motionless, as so often, in his chair with his head slightly bowed, his hands clasped in his lap, his face devoid of any external emotion.
At the end of his plea, Kaplan once again recalled the words of Presiding Judge Thomas Sagebiel that a repentant confession might be the best, perhaps even the only, chance for a defendant. Ernst did that with his admission days. “He has done everything he could, nothing more is possible.” He therefore hopes that the judges will “remember your own words as they deliberate.”