Frankfurt The day of the trial was almost over when Alexander Falk’s defense lawyer Björn Gercke surprised those present in Hall II of the Frankfurt Regional Court and caused the situation to escalate. He had to talk to his client again for ten minutes, he asked the presiding judge Jörn Immerschmitt only for a short break. When he then replied that he really wanted to end the session, Gercke canceled the planned meeting without further ado and told the judge that he would file a request for bias against him.
The reason for this was not spectacular in the lawsuit against the well-known publishing heir Falk, who, according to the indictment, commissioned a murder attack on Frankfurt lawyer Wolfgang J. a good ten years ago. The question was whether Etem E., the man who brought Falk to the dock by his testimony, was in a witness protection program. Judge Immerschmitt had given this as a reason when in December he prohibited a journalist from filming the witness in front of the courthouse and asked him to delete the footage.
By contrast, Frank H., the chief investigator of the Frankfurt homicide commission, who testified throughout the day of the trial, made it unmistakably clear that there had been police protection measures for E. At no time was he in a witness protection program.
For Falk’s lawyers, it was ultimately the drop that made the barrel overflow, and it looked as if they were waiting for it. A possible application for partiality had already emerged in the past few weeks. Again and again the lawyers accused Immerschmitt of touching the main witness Etem E. with kid gloves and letting his statements pass without any critical questions.
E. had been invited as a witness seven times in the past months and contradictions were regularly found in the statements. In some places it was clear that he had lied. A statement psychologist recently tore up his statement and found that much of what E. stated was mere guesswork and not perception. He could not give clear answers even to clear, clearly formulated questions.
The motion for bias against Immerschmitt is already the second in the trial started in August – the first was rejected.
Negotiation day already started with an escalation
With the renewed application, the day as it began ended: with discontent and an escalation. When prosecutor Nicole Metcalf made a statement right at the beginning of the trial day, the excitement among Falk’s defense lawyers was great: “In my eyes, the prosecution should be ashamed. Their behavior is second to none, poisoned Falk’s second defender Daniel Wölky. “They do not perform their intelligence function, but take the side of the main criminal witness,” he scolded.
And Gercke added: The public prosecutor’s office has no right to explain. The Criminal Procedure Code does not provide for commenting on this after reading documents. Therefore, the statement by the prosecutors is a mere “mimimi” in a vacuum.
What had happened: Last Tuesday, hundreds of chat protocols had been read out between the chief witness witness E. and the chief investigator of the police. Protocols that show an unusually close exchange and a need for explanation, familiar interaction between the investigator and the witness. In the eyes of Falk’s defense lawyers, the news shows that the commissioner broke the official secret and provided the witness with information that he shouldn’t have had.
The prosecutor summarized at the beginning of her statement that the minutes simply did not provide this evidence. Instead, they are unfounded claims by the defense lawyers to discredit the witness.
The witness who is to be discredited in the eyes of the prosecutors is Frank H., head of the homicide commission that is supposed to solve the attack on lawyer Wolfgang J. The lawyer was seriously injured in February 2010 by a shot in the leg in front of his house in Frankfurt.
Falk is said to have ordered this shot, which he vehemently denies. The possible motive: J. worked on a multi-million suit for damages against Falk.
H. reported hours of the investigation into the case today. He showed how, according to victim J., suspicions quickly arose against Falk, but for a long time were not valid enough to investigate him.
That only changed when Etem E. reported to the police in 2017. He said he was there when Falk ordered the shot from a steak house in Hamburg. And presented a tape on which you can hear Falk looking forward to the shot of the lawyer. Finally, in September 2018, Falk was arrested. He has been on trial for almost half a year.
Central points of the indictment have since broken away. The tape turned out to be manipulated. A second major witness witness corrected his statement, stating that it was created under pressure from E.
H. can and will possibly be able to say more about E.’s role and his contacts to him. The court wants to hear it again at the end of February or in March. Until then, it should also be decided whether the presiding judge will still be Jörn Immerschmitt.
More: Read more about how the million heir is said to have ordered an attack on a lawyer.