• Germany edition
 
Provincial judges hurt Germany's image abroad
Photo: DPA

Provincial judges hurt Germany's image abroad

Published: 17 Apr 2013 10:58 GMT+02:00
Updated: 17 Apr 2013 10:58 GMT+02:00

Chancellor Angela Merkel rightly spoke of national "shame" after it was uncovered in November 2011 that the National Socialist Underground (NSU) terror gang had murdered its way across Germany with impunity for the better part of decade.

In a moving memorial service, she said the country responsible for the horrors of the Third Reich had a special responsibility to protect its minorities. While I would argue all countries have such an obligation, in light of its dark history, one would think Germany would at least have a special sensitivity on such matters.

But the ten murders – eight people of Turkish heritage, one Greek, and one policewoman – by a trio of far-right extremists showed, if anything, that the German institutions meant to protect the country's foreign-born citizens were actively doing just the opposite.

As has been already eloquently pointed out, an investigation into the NSU killings has uncovered an unimaginable degree of incompetence and indifference – from the cops at the crime scene to the upper echelons of Germany's domestic intelligence agency.

Sadly, the Munich court where sole-surviving NSU member Beate Zschäpe will soon be tried, has shown itself to be affected by the very same institutional malaise.

On Monday, the curmudgeonly judges announced they were postponing the trial from this Wednesday until May 6th after the Constitutional Court ruled foreign media must be guaranteed access due to the heritage of the victims. Up to that point, the Bavarian court had steadfastly refused to fix its completely botched press accreditation process – which had left the Turkish-language media without a single one of the 50 seats reserved for journalists.

Germans will often disparage their country as a "Paragraphenland," or a land in thrall of countless legal statutes, and rarely has the label been more appropriate than when applied to the Munich court's infuriatingly narrow-minded interpretation of its own rules.

Casually ignoring the politically charged nature of the trial, the judges rejected televising the proceedings in a neighbouring room or tinkering with its first-come-first-serve approach. This intransigence, in turn, caused a growing sense of unease among Germany's media and politicians, as the court angered everyone from the victims' families to the Turkish ambassador.

Hiding behind the canard of preserving the independence of the nation's judiciary, the judges waited for the Constitutional Court to pull their chestnuts from the fire.

The high court ruling mandating foreign press access has mitigated a judicial disaster, but the damage to Germany's image has been done and the message is clear: Along with biased cops and incompetent spooks, as a minority in Germany you should be prepared to contend with judges wholly insensitive to your plight.

It remains to be seen how the inflexible Bavarian judges will solve the press accreditation problem. But they've generously given themselves three weeks to do so – and barring a mistrial, there's not much else that could go wrong.

Marc Young

marc.young@thelocal.com

twitter.com/marcyoung

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Merkel promises help for Liberia in Ebola fight
A man walks past an Ebola information mural in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: DPA

Merkel promises help for Liberia in Ebola fight

Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised that Germany will send help to Liberia to tackle the Ebola crisis in response to a personal appeal by the country's president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. READ  

Cabinet clamps down on child image possession
Justice Minister Heiko Maas. Photo: DPA

Cabinet clamps down on child image possession

People caught in possession of indecent images of children will face tougher prison sentences, the government announced on Wednesday. READ  

The Local List
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again

Ten German words you'll never want to hear again

There are some German words which we'd rather were never invented. From the almost unpronounceable to the sheer pointless, The Local List has identified ten of the worst words in the German language. Do you agree? READ  

Investigators offer $30m reward for MH17 clues
Investigators at the MH17 crash site. Photo: DPA

Investigators offer $30m reward for MH17 clues

Anonymous backers have armed a German private detective with a $30-million war chest to find out who shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine. READ  

13,000 police will catch speeders on Thursday
This sight will be familiar to drivers on Thursday. Photo: DPA

13,000 police will catch speeders on Thursday

UPDATE: Drivers across Germany will be on the lookout for police holding radar guns on Thursday, as 13,000 officers take to the streets to crack down on speeding. READ  

Oktoberfest 2014
Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest traditions
Photo: DPA

Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest traditions

The world's biggest beer festival opens in Munich on Saturday. Running until October 5th, Oktoberfest is expected to attract more than six million visitors, drinking seven million litres of beer. Here's the first of The Local's four-part guide to the festival, starting with leathery traditions. READ  

Climber, 77, falls 80 metres to his death
The Alps near Innsbruck. Photo: DPA

Climber, 77, falls 80 metres to his death

A 77-year-old German climber fell 80 metres to his death in an Alpine ravine on Tuesday. READ  

State leader defends 'Russia Day'
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state premier Erwin Sellering is a big fan of Russia. Photo: DPA

State leader defends 'Russia Day'

The leader of a state in eastern Germany is not letting the worst crisis between Russia and Europe since the Cold War get in the way of his plans to celebrate "Russia Day", despite critical voices calling him a "Putin sympathizer". READ  

Champions League
Borussia Dortmund outgun Arsenal in opener
Dortmund players celebrate at the final whistle. Photo: DPA

Borussia Dortmund outgun Arsenal in opener

Italian striker Ciro Immobile scored his first goal for Borussia Dortmund as the German side produced a dominant performance to outclass Arsenal 2-0 in their Champions League opening group game in Dortmund on Tuesday. READ  

German Muslims protest against extremism
Muslim Coordination Council spokesman Ali Kizilkazya speaking in Berlin on Tuesday. Photo:DPA

German Muslims protest against extremism

The biggest Muslim faith organizations in Germany will hold a nationwide demonstration for tolerance and peace and against all types of extremism on Friday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Education
German universities tumble in global rankings
Photo: DPA
Tech
Netflix launches in Germany (in English too)
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Fashion Ladies of the Local: Win a New Autumn Look
Photo: DPA
Politics
These men want to be the next mayor of Berlin
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
The three types of firms hiring foreigners
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Berlin spy station sees tourism boom
Photo: DPA/ESA
Tech
VIDEO: How one German astronaut sees Earth
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Frisky couple shock Berlin commuters
Photo: DPA
Politics
Are Germans right to want cooler relations with USA?
Photo: Bayernpartei/DPA
Politics
Why some Bavarians want a Scottish 'Yes'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
12 things to do in Berlin for less than a latte
Photo: Facebook
National
Bavarian waiter breaks beer-carrying record
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,325
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd