The eight Germans who are suspected of arson in Mallorca and who were in custody are back home in Münsterland after almost two months. After their release, the amateur bowlers had rested for a few hours in the evangelical community center in Palma before they drove to the airport before sunrise on Saturday. In Mallorca and at home they have been silent so far. And it will probably remain so in the foreseeable future. Probably the most important reason: The investigations against the eight and four other friends, who had also been released in June on bail of 12,000 euros each, are continuing in Mallorca.
The German public will have to wait to hear from the suspects what they experienced. How a short trip by the members of the “Stramm am Tisch” bowling club to the holiday island became an odyssey. You want to be careful and avoid any potentially damaging media hype. How did lawyer Maria Barbancho Saborit express herself shortly before her clients were released? The boys, almost all under 30, would first “play dead”.
But what will happen in the coming weeks? The investigating judge Antoni Rotger, who is considered to be very strict, will soon continue the investigation. The experienced lawyer, who led many cases against (including foreign) celebrities and corrupt politicians with an iron fist, had repeatedly opposed the release on bail of the eight Germans who remained in custody.
It was fortunate for the amateur bowlers that he was on vacation when the defense presented new allegedly exculpatory evidence and asked for bail again. A judge who stepped in as a substitute granted it.
Lucky coincidence? The “Mallorca Zeitung”, which is very familiar with the island, does not believe in it and speaks of a “clever move by the defenders” about the recently signed 31-year-old Barbancho Saborit, who spent three years in Heidelberg during her studies and speaks German.
But some observers and media on the island have already suggested that the shot could ultimately backfire. Judge Rotger could now feel taken by surprise and act even less benevolently than usual when deciding whether or not to initiate a trial against the Germans.
The Germans are accused of starting a fire near the Ballermann on Playa de Palma on May 20, shortly after their arrival on the island. They are said to have thrown burning butts and alcohol from the balcony of their hotel room onto the thatched roof of the terrace of a restaurant below. The roof caught fire. Two restaurants, an apartment and parts of the restaurant were damaged. Several people suffered minor injuries.
The tourists deny setting the fire. The group originally consisted of 13 vacationers. One of them was released without conditions the day after the fire. He had been able to prove that he was in the shower when the fire broke out. Four other suspects were allowed to leave prison after around two and a half weeks on bail.
In order to convince the judge who stepped in, the defense presented a photo as exculpatory evidence showing a smoking stranger on the balcony of the group’s neighboring room, who could also be the perpetrator. The photo contributed to the fact that the public prosecutor’s office spoke out for the release of the cone brothers for the first time, said lawyer Barbancho Saborit. But can the photo and other exculpatory evidence, according to the defense, also convince the judge? After all, eyewitnesses had incriminated the Germans.
For the time being there is still great joy in Münster. The bowlers were happily welcomed by relatives and friends both in front of the prison and on arrival at Münster/Osnabrück Airport. But if charged and found guilty of negligent arson, the men could face prison sentences of between one and three years, lawyers said.