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Joint statement of the group of international trial observers on the occasion of the begin of the "Berlin RZ (= Revolutionary Cells) trial" on 22.03.01

We, a group of international trial observers, come from different European countries. Professionally and politically we are active in the work for civil and human rights or we work as lawyers, respectively. We take part in this trial as critical observers, because we raise considerable doubts and many questions as far as the preferment of charges and the course of the investigations are concerned up to now. Our criticism on the procedure of the Chief Federal Prosecution (BAW) and the trial going on now is placed on a legal and on a political level as well.

Basically we ask: Why this trial just now and with this unusual effort at all? The long custody of the accused persons of 15 or 11 month, respectively, is alarming and, in view of the only vague accusations, not to be justified. The offences put forward are partly a long time ago, furthermore other offences are pulled up, which are statute-barred. In the centre are accusations of political organisation offences based on the § 129a, which makes a certain conviction wholesale a punishable offence. That means that individual criminal offences do not have to be proofed by the prosecution any longer. The only source of all accusations is the evidence of a chief witness, who is totally dependent on the prosecution concerning his existence and his salary.

The considerable effort spent on pubic safety and the special arrangements, which we experienced on a visit of one of the accused persons and on the first day of trial as well, raise our concern. The assumption is obvious, that the Chief Federal Prosecution tries to deduce by tightening the conditions of the trial the very evidence for the "danger of the accused", which simply does not result from the evidence put forward. The announced entry of the chief witness Tarek Mousli with personal protection and firearms in court and the copying of the passports of all visitors of the trial on the first day of trial are other examples for the orchestration of the alleged danger. We are protesting in this context against the hindrance of our work as international independent observers, since we were not allowed to take neither pen and paper nor a dictionary for translation into the court. The search of the observers with rubber gloves, the force of taking of the shoes and the comment of the BAW, who tried to justify the effort for public safety with public events around the trial, left the impression that the public is noticed as a threat, only. We are protesting against the defamation and the discredit of the request to follow this trial critically. As we see it, this is an attempt to scare of the public on the part of the court and of the BAW.

The extreme disproportion dealing with the accused persons, the "conviction article § 129a" and the staged effort for public safety are clear evidence that a political trial is meant to take place.

In this sense we believe it to be urgently necessary, that a critical public will observe the running trial. In this context we welcome the announcement of different German organisations for civil and human rights to do this. As international trial observers we will not only keep ourselves informed about the course of the trial, but we will also bring this information to the public in out own countries. The presence of international trial observers in court will be continued on other days of trial.

Berlin, 26.03.01:

Sean McGuffin, lawyer and writer,Derry
Saskia Daru, UNITED for Intercultural Action,Amsterdam
Frances Webber, lawyer, Institute of Race Relations, London
Pierre Jourdain, Fédéracion des Association de Soutien aux Travalleurs Immigrés, Paris
Marcel Bosonnet, lawyer and member of the Democratic Lawyers of Switzerland, Zurich