Because the latest evidence report could not clarify the perpetrators in the terrorist attack on Breitscheidplatz, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office wants to send evidence from Italy. Above all, it has the character of a show
The pistol, clothes and personal effects that Anis Amri was carrying when he was shot dead by the police in Sesto San Giovanni on December 23, 2016, are stored in the Italian evidence room. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office wants to bring her to Germany and examine her again for traces. The Federal Prosecutor Horst Salzmann, who was responsible for the terrorist attack on Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz, said on Thursday in the Bundestag’s investigative committee.
This is likely to be a reaction to the criticism of the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Federal Prosecutor’s office, which has persisted for more than a year, with the traces. Because the finds not only raise doubts about the portrayal of the sole perpetrator Anis Amri, but also that he was the one who raced into the crowd at the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz on December 19, 2016 with the deadly tractor-trailer. The central investigative bodies are sticking to this version, including Federal Prosecutor Salzmann.
The announcement that Amri’s pistol and other evidence will be re-examined in Germany has a double show character because DNA samples were last taken again on Amri’s clothing in July 2020. One wants to rule out, said Salzmann, that someone other than Amri was the perpetrator. Also to prevent the creation of legends from which the victims and bereaved would suffer.
Federal Prosecutor: He would be sure to be convicted of twelve murders
The MP Benjamin Strasser (FDP) acknowledged this somewhat angrily with the rhetorical question: “Are you only doing this to exclude other perpetrators?” According to the Federal Prosecutor, the question was wrong; instead, the aim was to confirm Amri’s perpetration. That is already fixed for her. If the accused had not been killed but arrested in Italy, they would have indicted him in the Berlin Superior Court. According to his prognosis, the court would have convicted Amri of twelve murders – not just aiding and abetting. The evidence is certain, said Salzmann.
Some of the victims who were injured by the attack and the bereaved relatives of those killed, who have been following the committees of inquiry for years and whom Salzmann wanted to claim, are actually more on the side of the doubters of the official thesis that Amri was alone in the attack committed. The intended return of the evidence points to another fundamental failure of the investigative work.
Amri’s body, the murder pistol and all the other items that the Tunisian had with him when he was shot four days after the attack in Italy, the German investigators were not even able to inspect, let alone work with them for forensic purposes. They were only presented with photographs. The BKA has so far resigned itself to this because its own theory remained untouched and did not want to investigate it unreservedly in all directions anyway.
Concerns about whether the Erma pistol Amri had with him in Italy was also the weapon with which the Polish haulage driver Lukasz U. was shot in Berlin recently emerged from the expert opinion of several external experts. The weapon was identified by comparing the bullet cases in Germany and Italy. The ball in the driver’s head was unsuitable for calibration because it was broken and deformed. The conclusion of the forensic doctor Cornelius Courts from Kiel: No, it cannot be proven with certainty that Lukasz U. was also shot with Amri’s pistol.
Where did the haulier die?
One of the unexplained circumstances of U’s death must be added that it is not clear where he died. At the truck parking lot before the attack or in the driver’s cab after the attack?
At the hearing in the U-Committee, to which he was connected via video from Kiel, the expert Courts pointed out that blood splatters or tissue parts of a victim could possibly also be found inside the barrel of a pistol. The phenomenon is called “backspatter”. This investigation was not carried out in Italy. It should therefore be made up in Germany.
For the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (BAW) and their favored offender theory, this is completely risk-free. Such an investigation can at most confirm that U. was shot with the weapon. If there is no blood from him in the barrel, that would not be evidence to the contrary. In addition, U.’s DNA was found on the gun’s magazine during the first investigation in Italy, so there must have been a contact.
However, an expected finding does not change the fundamental spiral of questions and doubts in the case: If it can be proven beyond doubt that Lukasz U. was shot with Amri’s pistol, that does not necessarily mean that Amri shot. And if Amri fired, in the opinion of the investigators, at the truck parking spot before the attack, that does not mean that he also drove the truck, said committee member Irene Mihalic (Greens). So whether the shooter was the driver and the gun owner was the shooter is far from being answered with a trace finding.
The methodological crux here: the investigative authorities have so far only examined the evidence of what could speak for Amri’s perpetrators and not according to what could speak for another perpetrator. For example, the DNA of an “unknown person” (UP 2) in the truck was not compared with all of Amris’ relevant contact persons. In some cases this no longer works because some of these people have been deported. Instead, Federal Prosecutor Salzmann shrugged: “There are things that we will not be able to clear up. We may have to live with the fact that UP 2 remains unknown.”
Dealing with traces at least tendentiously
The sentence is nothing but a self-excuse for not really wanting to explain, that one programmatically adheres to the Amri single perpetrator thesis and deals with traces in a tendentious, not to say manipulative, way. Detected fiber traces from the truck driver’s cab are still unprocessed by forensic technology. So far, they have not been matched with Amri’s clothes.
Another example is Amri’s fingerprints found on the outside of the driver’s door of the truck and next to it, fingers of the left and fingers of the right hand. For BKA investigator MG, who has since been questioned as a witness by the committee several times, the evidence shows that Amri supported himself with his left hand when he got out and then closed the driver’s door with his right hand. The expert for dactyloscopy, Ulrich Gerstel, from the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) Schleswig-Holstein comes to the same conclusion.
Maybe, according to committee member Konstantin von Notz (Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen), only: Where and when did Amri leave the truck and close the door? On Breitscheidplatz or somewhere else? Witnesses who observed the driver getting out at the scene testified that the door was open when the driver left. So he didn’t close it.
Several witnesses also mention that the driver was holding a gun in his right hand when he got out. This would not only make it difficult to close the door, but it also supports the assumption that the regular haulage driver was only shot on Breitscheidplatz. However, this would result in a completely different, nonetheless unknown course of events than the officially claimed.
And then there are two other witnesses who saw before the truck attack that the vehicle stopped again and that three men were sitting in the cockpit, one of whom got out.
Because the differences around the ambivalent traces at the crime scene and their unreliable interpretation by the BKA and BAW simply could not be resolved, last summer the investigative committee took the unusual step of having the traces checked and assessed by independent external experts. It was also a relief measure because the panel disagreed on the official Amri perpetrator version. Some MPs doubt it, others share it. That is why it should be judged by external experts.
Parts of the trace material used up in the first analysis
The DNA forensic scientist Cornelius Courts, the fingerprint specialist, Ulrich Gerstel, and the professor of forensics Christian Matzdorf were commissioned to check the location of the traces. But they are not that completely independent. Gerstel works for the LKA Schleswig-Holstein and comes from the BKA, Matzdorf was in the service of the Berlin police for 30 years, most recently in the rank of police director, and was press spokesman for both the police and the interior senator, and his colleague at the university for Economics and law in Berlin, Sandra Schmidt, is also a police trainer.
These experts only had the data that had already been collected; there was no new evidence of evidence, and no new forensic investigation. In some cases, this is difficult in practice because some of the trace material was used up during the first analysis. So the analysis cannot be repeated. In addition, the experts could not check whether the material provided was complete.
The question of the perpetrator is open
In that sense, it’s no surprise that they couldn’t find anything really new. Likewise, on such a data basis, they cannot rule out the previous assessment of the crime by the BKA and BAW. Courts’ conclusion: It could have been like this, but it could also have been different.
A bizarre result. At the lane level, the case seems to have gotten bogged down: There is no evidence that Anis Amri drove the Tat truck. But one cannot rule out that he drove it. On the other hand, you cannot prove that he did not drive it – nor can you rule out that he did not drive it. We know we don’t know anything. A trace of evidence that, strictly speaking, only allows one consequence: the question of the perpetrator is open, one has to look further.
The question is therefore why the central investigative bodies BAW and BKA, in spite of this, hold on to their inadequate theory.