Drach process: possible bias: court withdraws experts

In the already extensive trial against the former Reemtsma kidnapper Thomas Drach in Cologne, there is a risk of another massive delay.

Drach process: possible bias: court withdraws experts

In the already extensive trial against the former Reemtsma kidnapper Thomas Drach in Cologne, there is a risk of another massive delay. On Friday, the district court released an important expert in the process from his duties. The prosecution had previously filed a motion for bias, which was supported by Drach's defense.

The defense of one of Drach's co-defendants also filed a motion for bias. The expert had evaluated surveillance videos for the process and identified Drach with "high probability" as the perpetrator.

A reporter cannot be bought

The trigger for the applications was a process that is said to have taken place in the cafeteria of the Cologne district court. A journalist who also reported on the Drach trial had told the public prosecutor's office that the expert there had approached him and suddenly put a 100-euro note in his hand - combined with a request for acceptable reporting about his person . The journalist then replied, according to his own statements, horrified that he was not for sale. He threw the money back. The journalist wrote a report that the public prosecutor's office reported on in the process.

The expert denied the facts in a statement and called it "absurd". He worked out his report conscientiously. At the same time, he explained that after the course of the trial so far, he now feels "exclusively negative feelings such as hatred" towards the defense attorneys and fears that this could affect his neutrality. Therefore he asks for a release himself. He wants to protect his health.

Prosecutors said there was "a high degree of suspicion" that the journalist's statements were true. The descriptions are very detailed, while the denials are general. Also, no motive of the journalist is recognizable to think up such a story. Moreover, the expert's statement that he had strong negative feelings towards the defense gave the impression of bias in itself.

Judge Jörg Michael Bern, who is leading the process, said the court had considered the reasons for keeping the expert in the process. "Honestly, we couldn't think of any more arguments," he said. He also spoke of a very high "degree of suspicion" against the expert. "And then you really have to say: The expert leaves exactly the terrain that he has to go into," he said. "Namely that of neutrality."

Discussions with new experts

According to the court, it is now holding talks with new experts. The expert opinion presented so far is invalid. The expert had used surveillance videos for his analysis and stated, among other things, that Drach was very likely to have committed the robbery alleged in the process.

In the process, Drach is accused of robbing four money transporters in Cologne, Frankfurt am Main and Limburg. He denies the allegations. The process has been running since February, but has already experienced several interruptions and delays.

In 1996, Drach kidnapped the heir to the tobacco group, Jan Philipp Reemtsma, and only released him after paying a ransom. Drach was sentenced to fourteen and a half years in prison for the crime.

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