Sebastian Schmidtke is on trial for incitement of the people and spreading incitement to violence. The case involves CDs containing incitement against Jews.
Sebastian Schmidtke in front of the Tiergarten district court. Picture: dpa
For years, police and prosecutors have been investigating the "National Resistance (NW) Berlin" – so far unsuccessfully. Now there is a first breakthrough: on Wednesday it became known that already in March charges were brought against the website operator of the far-right group, a Dortmund neo-Nazi.
For a long time, investigators were in the dark about who was behind "NW Berlin." The group had been active in the city since 2005, organizing marches, and its acronym appeared after attacks. On their website, Nazi celebrities were celebrated, and migrants and homosexuals were dubbed "antisocial". There was also a kind of enemies list: more than 100 politicians, Antifa activists and journalists were on it, some with photos and addresses. The site has been offline for a year.
The operator remained unknown for a long time, the server was located in the USA. Only after a request for legal assistance last year did the LKA obtain data. The data led to Dennis G. from Dortmund. Dennis G., who is in his early thirties, is one of the most active neo-Nazis in the region. He organized marches and is said to manage servers for several right-wing extremist websites. Until they were banned, he led the comradeship "NW Dortmund". The latter was in contact with its Berlin namesake.
Martin Steltner, spokesman for the Berlin public prosecutor’s office, confirmed the charges against G. He is accused of incitement of the people, public incitement to commit crimes and insult. As a provider, G. had known what content was disseminated on the site, Steltner said. Investigations into who else was behind the group were continuing.
As a member of NW, NPD state leader Sebastian Schmidtke is also under suspicion. His name was on the group’s masthead years ago, and a phone number led to him. Schmidtke denies membership. However, the police searched the apartment and the Schoneweider outdoor store "Hexogen" of the NPDler because of the suspicion in March 2012 – and found there a suitcase with banned right-wing rock CDs, which are said to have been sold under the counter.
"We don’t need to talk about the lyrics".
Because of the CDs Schmidtke stood on Wednesday before the district court Tiergarten. Incitement of the people and the spread of calls for violence were the charges. Schmidtke is also alleged to have distributed another indexed CD via an online store. For half an hour, prosecutor Norbert Winkler quoted song lyrics from the CDs wishing death to Jews, gays or blacks, burning down "asylum seekers’ homes" and praising National Socialism. "We don’t need to talk about the lyrics," the latter’s defense lawyer conceded. "These are punishable contents."
Only: That the CD suitcase belonged to him, Schmidtke denied. Although he had seen the case under the counter, he had never looked inside, the NPD leader affirmed: "No idea who it belonged to." His fiancee and a trainee also worked in the store. Skeptical looks on the bench, grins among Schmidtke’s followers in the audience.
Police officers, on the other hand, testified that Schmidkte had admitted to selling the CDs during the raid. His defense attorney doubted that. In fact, Schmidtke’s fiancee Maria Fank, also an NPD functionary, had contacted the police and said that the suitcase belonged to her. But that was on Sunday, three days before the trial – and a year and a half after the raid.
Prosecutor Winkler made no secret of his doubts about Fank’s confession, indirectly threatening a motion to obstruct justice. The court nevertheless wants to question her on December 4. Also because the NPD woman had tried to get USB sticks and a hard drive out of the "Hexogen" during the raid – but had been caught.
Crimes committed by "NW Berlin" were not brought up at the trial. The questioning of a police officer, a right-wing extremism expert, gave an idea of why the investigations were progressing so slowly. The judge asked him why the police had searched Schmidtke’s apartment and store at the time. The officer said he could no longer say. Schmidtke’s defense attorney helped him out: "Was it about an Internet site called "NW Berlin"? That’s right, the police officer remembered.