Letter from Munich – 040
Letter from Munich – the Joseph Affair – 40
EINE DEUTSCHE FASSUNG STEHT WEITER UNTEN.
12 October 2001
Dear Mr. Graf, dear friends,
Heribert Prantl, a respected journalist with the authoritative German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, was interviewed on Bavarian state television on October 9. Prantl said that if there were a truly independent German justice system, where district attorneys were free of state influence, as they are in Italy, there would be less corruption in Germany, as has been the case in the Leuna Refinery affair – and, one might add, the Kohl campaign slush fund scandal.
Prantl didn’t say it, but it’s become obvious that there would also be less neo-Naziism in Germany, not only where cases like the Joseph Affair are concerned, but in other situations as well. This week in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung there was a headline (in German): “Skinhead Trial Threatens to Collapse.” The headline referred to the trial of the Skinheads who attacked a Greek man in Munich last winter. It turns out that one of the two jurors in the trial are members of an extreme right-wing Bavarian political party. One wonders if there is anyone who doesn’t now have doubts about the fairness of this trial? Or if there is anyone who doesn’t doubt that these skinheads must be laughing about what German President Johannes Rau said this past week, when he praised those ordinary German citizens who struggle against neo-Nazis in Germany – and those who struggled against the old Nazis? Even those neo-Nazis who are arrested are soon set free again.
Last week I ended the letter with the following excerpt from the transcript of the examination of Rene May, in the investigation into the death of the child Joseph Kantelberg-Abdulla:
In answer to a question, about whether he (i.e., the witness, Rene May) understood the significance of his sworn testimony and his statement today, the witness at first did not reply. In answer to a further question about whether Joseph’s death was an accident, in which the child had unfortunately drowned, he stated: “No, it wasn’t.”
In answer to a question about what it was, the witness did not reply. He was then told that according to his account, Joseph had been murdered, and he was asked if he understood that; he answered, “Yes.”
The transcript continues:
In answer to a question: “That was clear to me too, as I said to Joseph’s mother.”
In answer to a question about why he hadn’t spoken to his father (about what had happened), “I didn’t want to talk to him about it.”
In answer to a question about whether Joseph’s mother had come to his house to see him, “Yes, but my father didn’t let her in. I don’t know when that was.”
In answer to a question from the district attorney: “When I didn’t find Joseph in the large paddling pool, I went back to my place on the grass. Then everybody was whistled out with the guard’s whistle, and they stood around the paddling pool. I went there too. Then Joseph’s father got out of the ambulance that came there then and said that Joseph was dead. I went home alone. My brother was still at the swimming pool.”
In answer to a question: “Joseph was my friend. It was a real shock that he died.”
In answer to a question: “With my statement, I wanted to help myself forget, I mean this statement that I’ve just made and the one I gave to Joseph’s mother.”
In answer to a question about why he had at first said that he hadn’t seen or heard anything, and if he thought the court did not know about his sworn statement given to Joseph’s mother, he stated, “Yes, that’s what I thought.”
The transcript ends with questions about whether the witness can read and write.
About five weeks after the above questioning before the district court in Dresden, on 27 November 2000, the Dresden police interviewed Rene May’s father, Hanspeter May, at his residence in Sebnitz. In the transcript of this questioning by the police, a copy of which was given to the writer by Joseph’s mother, Hanspeter May insists that Joseph’s mother offered his son Rene a share in the sum of DM 2,000 to make the above statement before the court. (The rest of the DM 2,000 was supposed to be shared among other witnesses.)
I leave it to those who have read the entire transcript of Rene’s statement before the Dresden district court to decide whether the statement, even in translation, sounds as if it had been paid for.
Robert John Bennett
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