Defendant M. in court (archive): He is also said to have sent disturbing voice messages
F.Boillot / imago images / snapshot
The effects were massive.
Courthouses were cleared, trains in Lübeck came to a standstill, and in Hamburg an airplane remained on the ground.
Streets and shopping centers were closed, a town hall was evacuated.
The "National Socialist Offensive" sent more than 80 threatening emails.
The author threatened bombings, public executions, and the murder of children.
André M., 32, is said to have written these threatening emails.
Disturbing the public peace is one of the charges.
What drives André M., whether and, if so, what danger poses him, whether he is right-wing extremist, mentally disturbed or both - all of this has been discussed behind closed doors since Tuesday in the 10th Large Criminal Chamber of the Berlin Regional Court.
The public needs to stay outside while the psychiatric expert is talking.
This is what the defense has requested, and this is what the Chamber has decided.
A decision that is difficult to understand.
It's not about voyeurism.
It's not about indulging in a defendant's psychiatric illness.
It's not about exposing André M. through the most piquant details from his intimate life.
It's about understanding.
Dreams of rampages and acts of violence
Right-wing extremist threatening emails are a very topical problem: NSU 2.0, Wehrmacht, Staatsstreichorchester, SS-Obersturmbannführer, National Socialist Offensive - their names vary.
What they have in common is the insecurity they create in society.
Where does political extremism end, where does a mental disorder begin?
Where is the line between radical and sick?
What are the causes of radicalization?
The André M. case can provide information on all of these questions.
Findings that are socially relevant far beyond the specific individual case.
The law states that the public can be excluded insofar as "circumstances from the personal sphere of life" of a defendant come up, "the public discussion of which would violate interests worthy of protection".
The very next sentence reads: "That does not apply if the interest in the public discussion of these circumstances prevails."
In the trial against André M., a number of intimate details were already discussed without the public being sent outside.
Again and again it was about the worrisome state of health of the accused, about his eating disorder, his phobias, the medication he is taking.
Voice messages were played in which André M. presented himself to a friend as a psychopath, in which he dreams of rampages and acts of violence, in which he turned himself inside out.
According to the prosecution, Andre M. fantasized in his emails "of the destruction of the capitalist system in favor of a National Socialist order".
According to the Berlin Public Prosecutor's Office, he not only wanted to unsettle the population with his attack threats, but also intended "to implement his threats and thereby kill or seriously injure numerous uninvolved victims".
It is not more details from the life of André M. that make the psychiatrist's report so significant.
Of particular importance is their professional classification of what has already been discussed in court.
Criminal trials usually do not take place behind closed doors for good reason.
The people should understand how a judgment is reached that is pronounced in their name.
How much trouble does the rule of law put in with a defendant?
How fair do investigators work?
How committed do defenders fight?
How confidently do the judges act?
How convincing are reviewers?
What made a person a perpetrator?
It is such things that court reporters, as part of the public, should look out for their readers.
In the best case scenario, the readers can use the reports not only to understand the actual process, but in the best case scenario they also learn something about society and about themselves. However, the courtroom door must remain open for this.
Icon: The mirror