Ismail Yozgat says he has not gotten over the death of his son Halit. Halit Yozgat was the ninth and youngest victim in the series of murders allegedly carried out by the neo-Nazi group calling itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU). The 21-year-old was shot in April 2006 at an Internet café in Kassel. He bled to death in his father's arms.
The two men believed to be directly responsible for killing his son are dead. But their alleged accomplice, Beate Zschäpe, as well as four men accused of helping the terror cell, were originally supposed to appear on Wednesday before the Munich Higher Regional Court. Ismail Yozgat's attorneys, Thomas Bliwier, Doris Dierbach and Thomas Kienzle, had planned to file a petition at the start of the trial: They asked that a video feed of the proceedings be transmitted to another room for spectators, and that video from that room be transmitted through a back channel to the main courtroom.
The trial was postponed to May 6 following criticism that no Turkish media received seats in the courtroom under the original first-come, first-served allocation system. The trial is extremely sensitive in Turkey given that eight out of the neo-Nazi terror cell's 10 victims were of Turkish origin. Germany is home to an estimated 3 million people of Turkish origin and the country has been plagued by a number of racist attacks against the minority population in the past two decades. The case is already attracting significant attention in the international press.
The petition by Yozgat's lawyers is the first official request for video transmission.
The court has so far denied a video transmission, arguing it raises legal questions, and a prominent member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats who leads the party's Legal Committee in parliament, has argued that a video transmission would come across like a "show trial and a public viewing" that would "violate the human dignity of the accused."
But Kienzle's lawyer argues that what is being called for is not the kind of public viewing that would be comparable "with a broadcast at a football stadium, with 60,000 bellowing spectators watching the trial," says lawyer Kienzle, "but rather a transmission into another room of the courthouse." Up until now, the court has categorically rejected this type of "extension room."
A Risk Worth Taking?
The risk is too great that the court's verdict won't hold up on later appeal, said Margarete Nötzel, a judge and head of the press office at the Munich Higher Regional Court. The focus should be "on carrying out the proceedings and parsing through the alleged crimes." "It's about whether the defendants are guilty or not, and about them getting a fair trial -- and a judgment that does not leave grounds to be overturned. That is our task," said Nötzel.
Ismail Yozgat's attorneys don't see this as an obstacle: As long as the transmission of sound and images is done for internal legal purposes and the broadcast remains under the court's control, such activity is, according to the German Judiciary Act, "expressly permitted," their petition reads.
"The extremely limited public access does not meet constitutional requirements," write the lawyers. The courtroom, which was modified specifically for this case, includes 100 seats for the public, which are to be split evenly between spectators and media representatives. That is far too few, says attorney Kienzle. The debate over the past few weeks, he says, has once again proven the extent of public interest.