Accused in court (here in March 2022): He doesn't want to look, but every now and then he does
Photo: Olaf Wagner / IMAGO
Yousuf H. is mesmerized by the screen.
The 27-year-old sits on the front edge of his chair, his upper body slightly bent forward, his full attention focused on the photos displayed on the screen in the courtroom.
It begins idyllically.
The first images show a dirt road near the Bavarian village of Holzkirchen.
The path leads along trees and bushes.
The sun is shining.
A few clouds can be seen in the sky.
It's August 5, 2021 around 6 p.m.
Forensics officers are searching for the body of Yousuf H's sister Maryam that evening.
The officers took photos of their actions step by step.
The large criminal court shows the photos this Friday in room 500 of the Berlin district court.
It's a corpse search in 75 pictures.
Yousuf H. and his brother Mahdi H., 23, have been on trial for murder since March.
According to the indictment, they are said to have killed their sister in Berlin in July 2021 because the 34-year-old made her own decisions about her life.
Maryam H., her two children and her brothers had fled to Germany from Afghanistan.
Maryam H. was forced to marry while in Afghanistan, and in Germany she divorced her abusive husband.
Her son says her brothers constantly tried to control his mother after the split.
In his interrogation, the 13-year-old spoke of years of violence, humiliation and fear.
His uncles shouldn't have known that his mother had a new boyfriend - but they may have known it for a long time.
On July 13, 2021, Maryam H. said goodbye to her children in the morning.
They never saw their mother again.
Her boyfriend later reported her missing to the police.
Surveillance videos show the H. brothers boarding an ICE train bound for Munich at Berlin’s Südkreuz train station that same evening, carrying a heavy black suitcase.
Mahdi H. lived in Berlin until his arrest, Yousuf H. in Donauwörth, Bavaria.
The investigators suspected that the body of Maryam H.
The Berlin police officers followed the trail of the suitcase to Bavaria and informed the responsible forensic investigation of the Ingolstadt police.
This Friday, one of the Bavarian officials uses photos to report how they cautiously approached the spot where they suspected Maryam H's body.
The photos show a dirt road that leads up a small slope, a dirt track goes through the thicket, behind it a small clearing can be seen.
The ground is overgrown.
Only one spot is bare.
Someone has draped loose tufts of grass on the ground and laid a branch with leaves over them.
It is the tomb of Maryam H.
His gaze becomes rigid
The cops started digging.
The Chamber does not stop showing the relevant photos in the courtroom.
Yousuf H. becomes restless in the dock.
With his right hand he begins to massage his right temple.
The policeman from Ingolstadt says that at first they didn't know how to interpret what was coming to light.
They reckoned with a suitcase, but instead they first exposed one shoulder, then the entire upper and lower body.
Yousuf H. covers his eyes in the dock.
The policeman speaks of fingers sticking out of the ground.
Mahdi H's gaze becomes fixed, wrinkles form on his forehead, he doesn't seem to be able to look away.
As more photos of the site are shown, he looks away and lifts his FFP2 mask to get a better breath.
Elisabeth Mützel, a professor at the Institute for Forensic Medicine at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, conducted the autopsy of the body.
The Chamber also displays these photos on the screen.
Maryam H's head was wrapped in multiple tapes.
A black cloth can be seen at the neck under the tape, tightly knotted at the front of the neck.
Yousuf H. has long since stopped looking at the screen.
His brother Mahdi struggles with himself.
He doesn't want to look either, but every now and then he does.
The medical examiner continues, now from a 16 centimeter wide and "very deep" neck cut.
The interpreter also asks for a break
It's the moment when Madhi H. can't take it anymore.
He slumps lower and lower in his chair.
His brother Yousuf informs his lawyer that Mahdi H. is not doing well.
The chamber interrupts the hearing and a paramedic is called.
Shortly thereafter, the interpreter reaches his limits.
He translates the forensic doctor's explanations into Farsi for the accused, although Yousuf and Mahdi H. have long since removed their headphones.
Now the interpreter asks the court for a break.
How was Maryam H. killed?
According to Professor Mützel, three ways of killing come into consideration.
Tape around mouth and throat leads to suffocation within minutes;
cutting the throat causes fatal blood loss or air embolism, which is air entering the bloodstream;
and then there are clear indications that Maryam H. was strangled, presumably with the scarf around her neck, such a death also lasts several minutes.
The expert considers it likely that the woman was first strangled, then her head was taped up to just below her eyes and finally, while she was dying or already dead, her throat was cut open.
It sounds as if Maryam H. was murdered three times.