29.08.2022, Berlin: Die Angeklagten sitzen im Gerichtssaal des Kriminalgerichts Moabit hinter ihrern Anwälten und verdecken ihre Gesichter. Hier begann der Prozess gegen insgesamt fünf Männer. Die Berliner Generalstaatsanwaltschaft wirft ihnen unter anderen vor, spätestens im Januar 2017 beschlossen zu haben, Brandanschläge auf die Autos zweier Männer zu verüben, die sich politisch gegen Rechtsextremismus engagieren. In der Nacht zum 1. Februar 2018 sollen sie im Bezirk Neukölln die Autos angezündet und dadurch beschädigt haben. Die Vorwürfe lauten Bedrohung, Brandstiftung beziehungsweise Beihilfe dazu, Sachbeschädigung und Verwenden von Kennzeichen verfassungswidriger Organisationen. Mit der Anschlagsserie befasst sich auch ein parlamentarischer Untersuchungsausschuss des Berliner Abgeordnetenhauses. Foto: Christian Ender/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

At the start of the trial for right-wing extremist arson attacks, one of the two accused spoke for the first time on Monday in the Tiergarten district court through his lawyer and protested his innocence. The 39-year-old Tilo P., once active in the AfD Neukölln, and the 36-year-old right-wing extremist Sebastian T. are accused of setting fire to the cars of the bookseller Heinz Ostermann and the left-wing politician Ferat Kocak on February 1.

There have also been right-wing extremist graffiti since 2017. Mirko Röder, P.’s lawyer, said after reading the indictment: “My client did not commit the crimes he was accused of, he is innocent.” At the same time, he particularly regrets the suffering that Kocak and his family suffered.

Ostermann said after the trial: “I was bile.” He feared that “it amounts to an acquittal, that it cannot be proven watertight”. In fact, investigators had even less evidence for the remaining acts in the string of far-right attacks since 2013, with more than 70 crimes, including 23 arson attacks. There are only indications of the accused attacks. The prosecution speaks of possible other, previously unknown perpetrators.

Special investigators had found mistakes by the police, public prosecutor’s office and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, so the serial character of the crimes had been pursued too late.

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Kocak was also critical. He was only admitted as a joint plaintiff on Friday after a complaint to the district court. The lawyers for T. and P. therefore called for the proceedings to be suspended. Because the district court thought it possible that T. and P. could also be convicted of attempted homicide.

The district court is not the right instance for this, but the district court because of the higher sentence, said Röder. “We already know that the co-plaintiff will seek a homicide conviction,” Röder said.

New aspects for the defense would arise. The presiding judge rejected this. There is insufficient suspicion for a homicide, she said. In addition, the minor offenses are the first to be dealt with in the process. When asked if he was seeking a homicide conviction, Kocak said, “I can only say what I felt that day. And the feeling was just life-threatening.”

His parents and he were very scared on the night of the crime. “From my perspective, it was not an attack on my car, but an attack on the life and limb of my family and me.”

Kocak wants to keep his mandate as a deputy member of the investigative committee of the House of Representatives on the Neukölln complex. Attorney Röder, on the other hand, warned that by law, a person concerned should not be a member of the committee himself. The defense attorney had previously threatened to go before the Constitutional Court. Kocak said, “I’m aware of the dual role. I will separate things, here I am a co-plaintiff, a second-tier position.”

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The process runs under increased security precautions. In addition to arson and aiding and abetting, it is about threats, property damage and the use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations. The Attorney General’s Office accuses T. and P. of trying to intimidate people who are active against the right.

The third accused, a 38-year-old, is said to have been involved in graffiti. T. is also said to have fraudulently obtained social benefits and corona aid amounting to 20,000 euros. The case against a fourth defendant, 48, was suspended due to illness. A fine of 60 daily rates of 15 euros, i.e. 900 euros, was issued against a 50-year-old for right-wing graffiti. He appealed.