• Germany's news in English
 
jobs_header_v3

Provincial judges hurt Germany's image abroad

The Local · 17 Apr 2013, 10:58

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit


Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Nazi POW leaves estate to 'kind' Scottish village
The former German soldier stayed on to work in the Perthshire village for a time after the war. Photo: Andy Buchanan / AFP file picture

A former Nazi prisoner of war has left his entire estate in his will to a small village in Scotland to show his appreciation for the kindness he received there during his captivity.

US tries to block Chinese purchase of Aixtron
Photo: Oliver Berg / DPA / AFP

US President Barack Obama on Friday moved to block a Chinese company's purchase of German semiconductor equipment maker Aixtron by rejecting the inclusion of Aixtron's US business in the deal.

Merkel to chart 2017 election battle at party congress
Photo: Tobias Schwarz / AFP

After Donald Trump's shock victory, Francois Hollande's decision not to seek re-election and populism on the rise, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is next up on the campaign podium to set out her strategy for winning in 2017 polls.

Berlin vs Munich: whose newborn polar bear is cuter?
Berlin's (left) and Munich's (right) newborn bears. Photos: Tierpark Berlin / DPA

Both city zoos welcomed baby polar bears into the world in November, with Berlin zoo its releasing first photos on Friday. But which one is more adorable?

Learn how to speak German like a silver screen icon
Dirty Harry. Photo: DPA

We all agree that there is no other option than to learn irregular German verbs by rote. But when you want a bit of downtime, why not learn from your big screen heroes?

Stolen Dachau 'Work will set you free' gate found: police
The entrance to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Photo: DPA

An iron gate from the former Nazi concentration camp in Germany's Dachau with the slogan "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work will set you free") has been found two years after it was stolen, police said Friday.

Mystery flight path artist draws new message in sky
Photo: DPA

A pilot who likes to draw patterns in the sky using his flight path has returned with his greatest artwork yet.

Berlin 'abusing power' to stop Snowden coming to Germany
Edward Snowden. Photo: DPA

Opposition parties have accused the coalition government of overstepping its authority in its attempt to block American whistleblower Edward Snowden's trip to Germany.

Germany gains record number of Michelin-star restaurants
Head of the Michelin Guide, Michael Ellis (centre) with Michelin-star chefs at a presentation in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

Germany had a slew of newly minted Michelin-star restaurants this year, and its top-rated establishments held onto their prestigious three stars.

At last: Germany passes major disabled rights reform
People in wheelchairs watch as the German parliament deliberates on the new disability rights reform. Photo: DPA.

For years people with disabilities in Germany have called for legislation to provide them with better benefits and opportunities in life and work. On Thursday the German parliament passed such a reform - but is it enough?

Lifestyle
10 German Christmas cookies you have to bake this winter
Sponsored Article
The key to launching your international career
Lifestyle
Our 10-step guide for doing Christmas just like a German
National
Here's why so many Germans vote for the far-right AfD
National
7 events in Germany that'll make December unforgettable
Lifestyle
7 frosty German sayings to make you a winter wordsmith
National
This is how unequal German society has become
National
Six things you should know about the Lufthansa strike
National
9 ways living in Germany will make you a better person
National
These 10 German Christmas markets cannot be missed
Features
8 German words that unlock amazing secrets in English
Culture
10 German words with simply hilarious literal translations
Lifestyle
7 things Germans do that make foreigners feel awkward
International
Why Donald Trump's grandad was booted out of Germany
National
This is what is really inside your Döner kebab
National
Rejoice! Christmas markets start opening across Germany
Education
These German universities are best at landing you a job
Travel
Why Heidelberg is Germany's most inspiring city
Lifestyle
This soppy German Christmas ad will bring you to tears
National
Here's where Germans speak the best (and worst) English
Culture
10 German books you have to read before you die
Culture
U-Bahn train found filled with autumn foliage in Berlin
Features
Seven German words that unlock amazing secrets about English
Travel
Germany's ten most beautiful towns you've never visited
6,591
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd