• 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

A Munich court's provincial pedantry has damaged Germany's image abroad, just as the country seeks justice for an unprecedented series of racist murders by neo-Nazis, writes The Local's Marc Young.

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Minister praises Erasmus 'success story'
Photo: DPA

Minister praises Erasmus 'success story'

A revamped version of European student exchange programme Erasmus officially launched in Berlin on Thursday with Germany's education minister praising the scheme as a Europe-wide “success story”. READ () »

Turkey tourists lose call to prayer refund bid
Photo: DPA

Turkey tourists lose call to prayer refund bid

A German couple has lost their legal fight to get a refund for a Turkish holiday which they said was ruined by the calls to prayer from a nearby mosque. It is just one of a series of court claims by picky German tourists. READ () »

Germany halts arms sales to Russia
Russian troops surround a Ukrainian base in Crimea. Photo: DPA

Germany halts arms sales to Russia

Germany has stopped selling arms to Russia due to the current “political situation”, according to reports on Thursday. The sale of military equipment to Russia by German firms has been criticized by the country’s Nato allies. READ () »

Truck kills man lying in middle of road
Photo: DPA

Truck kills man lying in middle of road

Police were searching for witnesses on Wednesday morning following a mysterious road accident in which a 25-year-old man was killed as he lay in the middle of the road. READ () »

Ecclestone bribery trial kicks off in Munich
Bernie Ecclestone in court in Munich on Thursday morning. Photo: DPA

Ecclestone bribery trial kicks off in Munich

UPDATE: Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone went on trial in Munich on Thursday facing bribery charges in a case which threatens his nearly 40-year-reign of the motor sport. READ () »

Where are Germany's smartest towns?
Germany's cleverest town. Photo: DPA

Where are Germany's smartest towns?

A brain training website released scores on Wednesday showing which German towns performed best and worst in a range of cognitive tests - with some surprising results. READ () »

April wraps up with stormy week ahead
Lightning over Lake Starnberg, in Bavaria. Photo: DPA

April wraps up with stormy week ahead

The end of April is looking stormy for Germany with hot and cold air mixing and making for wild spring weather over the coming few days, state forecasters DWD said on Wednesday. READ () »

Germany sold €40 million of arms to Russia
Russian troops pictured in March in Crimea. Photo: DPA

Germany sold €40 million of arms to Russia

Germany arms sales to Russia have come under fire following the crisis in Ukraine. In 2012 Germany sold €40 million worth of rifles, pistols and armoured vehicles to the country. READ () »

Munich to get 'Tetris cube' hotel
Photo: Nieto Sobejano Architects, Berlin

Munich to get 'Tetris cube' hotel

Munich's old city centre is to receive an ultra modern addition to its skyline in the shape of a new hotel dubbed 'the Tetris cube'. READ () »

The Local List
German beer culture in 11 gulps
Photo: DPA

German beer culture in 11 gulps

Wednesday marks the 498th anniversary of Germany's celebrated beer purity law, so in honour of nearly half a millennium of hoppy history, this week's Local List tells some beer truths you may not know. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
11 things you need to know about German beer
Photo: DPA
Politics
Interview with AfD - 'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'
Photo: DPA
National
Police damage own water cannon with eggs
Photo: DPA
National
Let us start work later after World Cup nights, unions says
Photo: DPA
Society
Crystal meth use hits record level
Photo: DPA
Rhineland
Elderly man taped €200,000 to his genitals
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
What's the unemployment rate in your area of Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
Gallery
World War I in colour photos
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
School kids hospitalized after 'porno' party
Advertisement:
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Munich's baby polar bears are finally named
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

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

3,069
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd