When on August 29th a court begins to investigate the series of right-wing extremist attacks in Neukölln for the first time, one of the most prominent victims will not be allowed to appear as a joint plaintiff. The left-wing politician Ferat Koçak, whose car was set on fire in early 2018, was not admitted as a joint plaintiff by the Tiergarten district court.
The reason: Koçak does not meet the requirements because “the alleged consequences of the crime for the witness Koçak do not justify any physical or mental damage,” the court decided. It checked the “legal requirements for admission as a joint plaintiff and did not consider them to be given,” said a spokeswoman.
The two neo-Nazis Sebastian T. and Tilo P. are accused of having set fire to the car of the bookseller Heinz Ostermann and the Koçaks in quick succession on the night of February 1, 2018. Apparently, the latter should be punished and intimidated for their activities against the right. The vehicles were destroyed by the fire.
The attacks are considered a sad climax in the series of more than 70 right-wing attacks in Neukölln since 2013, including 23 arson attacks. At that time, Koçak’s car was parked in the driveway, in a carport right next to his parents’ house in Rudow.
When he woke up in the night, he began to put out the flames so they wouldn’t spread to the house. In addition, the gas line of the house ran along in the area. Koçak says it was an attack “that we only just survived”.
Ferat Koçak is not only a witness in the trial, but also a deputy member of the committee of inquiry into the Neukölln complex. Whether the arson attacks can be investigated in parliament is uncertain, the court process has priority.
Koçak’s role was also controversial, because no one is actually allowed to be a member of the committee who “is or was not insignificantly involved in the processes to be investigated”, as the law states. As a joint plaintiff, he could access files that were initially denied to him in the investigative committee.
Koçak now criticizes that the court does not want to recognize sufficient mental damage in him to admit him as a joint plaintiff. “The psychological and physical consequences of the crime are still omnipresent for me today. Anxiety, sleepless nights, lost trust in people: a constant state of alarm for the psyche,” says Koçak, who was elected to the House of Representatives in 2021.
After the attack, he “had to change my job twice” because “I was no longer able to perform.” His mother suffered a heart attack. He continues to use the support of psychological counseling centers, “because the images of the fire are increasingly haunting me again”. The judge, on the other hand, cited an insufficient number of psychological counseling appointments that Ferat Koçak is said to have made use of.
In the case of serious crimes such as rape or homicide, joint prosecutors are permitted per se, with other crimes there must be special reasons such as the “serious consequences of the crime”. According to the court, this intensity has not been reached, said a spokeswoman.