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16th Day of Trial Short Report: Unanswered questions about potential accomplices

On the 16th day of the trial, ballistics and forensic experts, a survivor of the attack and police officers who had arrested the alleged attacker were heard as witnesses.

On October 13, 2020, the 16th day of the trial against the alleged attacker of Halle took place at the Magdeburg Regional Court. Experts for ballistics and forensic medicine were heard and a witness, who escaped the attacker near the local kebab restaurant, told about his experiences. In addition, the police officers who had finally caught the attacker recounted the arrest situation. A BKA official presented his analysis of the results of the investigation with regard to potential accomplices: There were no clues that would point to confidants or supporters. The joint plaintiff’s counsel pointed out the gaps in the investigations, especially concerning the attacker’s online activities and contacts.

The first witness was Bernd Salziger, expert for ballistics at the BKA. He was to supplement a previously prepared expert opinion, now with regard to the question of the effect of ammunition at long range. Specifically, this concerned the exchange of fire between the attacker and the police officers in Ludwig-Wucherer-Straße, who were about 70 meters away from each other. Salziger explained that his measurements and calculations had shown that – even at such a distance – potentially fatal injuries were to be expected when the weapon used was fired. The joint plaintiff’s Attorney Onur Özata pointed out that his client İsmet Tekin was only 30 meters away from the attacker and asked whether he was right in his assumption that a shot at this distance would then be all the more deadly. Bernd Salziger confirmed this.

Three experts from forensic medicine were then heard. First, Dr. Weber reported on the autopsy results in the case of the killed Jana S. She had been hit by 18 shots. His colleague Prof. Rüdiger Lessig then reported on the autopsy results of the killed Kevin S. The monitors were switched off for public viewing of the pictures of the corpses in order to protect the personal rights of the victims. The expert Lina Woydt had examined the victims Mrs. M. and Mr. Z. after the crime forensically. Both had been shot by the attacker while fleeing, who had threatened them and demanded a getaway car. In both cases there was no acute danger to life with regard to the specific injuries – however, Woydt noted that in the case of injuries in the leg and pelvic area as well as in the head and neck area, there was a potential danger to life in any case.

For the afternoon, the witness Abdülkadir B. was invited. The 36-year-old plasterer was on his way to the kebab restaurant when he encountered the attacker on Ludwig-Wucherer-Str. He said that at first he thought the attacker was a soldier because of his clothing – when he took his rifle out of the car, witness B. realized that something was wrong. He then ran away as fast as he could in zigzag, while the attacker shot at him three times. On the way witness B. saw İsmet Tekin and shouted to him not to go any further because there was an armed man there. Witness B. said that after this experience he quit his job and was unfit to work for several months. The attack had shown him that something bad could happen at any time – he no longer wanted to go to the construction site and would have preferred to stay only at home with his children. When asked by the chairmen, he stated that he has now been working again for five months.

After that, the witnesses Polizeihauptmeister (PHM, Police Chief) F. and PHM K. were questioned, who had finally cornered the accused under threat of firearm use. The two policemen from Zeitz had been informed about the fugitive attacker from Halle and had decided to take up position on the B91. At the Werschen intersection, they had discovered the escape vehicle and started their pursuit. The driver had turned onto a single-lane road and crashed into a truck and a concrete barrier. The attacker had then jumped out of the car and over the crash barrier, behind which there was a construction pit. They could apprehend him here. Mr. K. said that the attacker had seemed very calm and composed to him. A short time later, reinforcements arrived.

At last, Kriminaloberkommissar (KOK, Detective Superintendent) W. was heard by the BKA. Among other things, he was responsible for a comprehensive report on the current state of knowledge regarding possible supporters of the accused. The witness stated that he had compiled the state of the investigation in various points. At the beginning of his testimony, the presiding judge Mertens pointed out to him that the relatives of the accused had made use of their right to refuse to testify, i.e. that their statements could no longer be used during the interrogations, and asked him to omit them. KOK W. reported that neither the crime video nor the uploaded documents of the accused had given any indication of accomplices. The same applied to the testimony of the witnesses: He had been described throughout as a loner who had no interest in contact with others – with the exception of his family. The layout and build of the weapons and the evaluation of the accused’s means of communication had also revealed nothing relevant. The attacker’s former brother-in-law, Mario S., was said to have had welding skills, but according to him, he never helped the attacker. The accused’s statement contradicted this account, but it was not possible to determine whether Mr. S. knew what B. wanted to weld. The investigation of Mr. W., who had posted the link to documents relevant to the crime on 4chan had also not provided any evidence of complicity, nor did an examination of various hints received by the police, regarding three viewers on Twitch platform and a financial investigation. The investigation of the “sub-complex weapons” had revealed that it was possible that the accused had produced them without external help. As far as the accused’s electronic evidence and online contacts are concerned, they could not be fully evaluated and identified.

The accused had tried to delete the data from his main computer – the process had not been completed, but relevant files could have been deleted. No evidence was found that the accused had produced the documents together with others. He did not want to make any statement about his Internet contacts. Detective chief inspector (Kriminaloberkommissar) W. concluded that there were no indications that the attacker had supporters.

During an extensive questioning by the joint plaintiff’s attorneys, Kristin Pietrzyk and Alexander Hoffmann, Hoffmann pointed out that the KOK report was based on preliminary findings. Senior Public Prosecutor Schmidt explained that the encrypted data carriers of the accused had not yet been decrypted and that there was little chance of success. Kristin Pietrzyk pointed out that Mr. W.’s final conclusion was based on an incomplete picture in that he had no access to the data carriers and the online contacts of the accused could not be determined. The trial will continue on Wednesday, October 14.