Defendant Mahdi H. and brother Yousuf in the Berlin-Moabit criminal court: defense by silence
Jörg Carstensen / picture alliance / dpa
He has a question, says the young man during his interrogation with the police.
Why would someone who committed such a crime be so crazy and stay in the country?
The chief inspector does not find it difficult to answer.
»There are different possibilities«, she says: »Either the person has no money or no opportunity to go abroad.
Or he feels so safe that he thinks nothing can happen to him.«
Mahdi H. showed no signs of uncertainty when he was questioned as a suspect by the officer at the Berlin State Criminal Police Office and her colleague for almost two hours on August 3, 2021.
The investigators suspect that the then 22-year-old and his four-year-old brother Yousuf are said to have murdered their sister Maryam three weeks earlier, on July 13, 2021.
They are said to have brought their bodies in a suitcase with the ICE from Berlin to Bavaria that same evening.
Video presentation in the courtroom
Since March, the two Afghans have had to face charges of murder before the 22nd Major Criminal Chamber of the Berlin Regional Court.
In court, the brothers defend themselves in silence.
Mahdi H. was not yet silent with the police.
He did not have a lawyer by his side at the time.
The video of the interrogation shows the Chamber in the process this week.
Yousuf H. looks very intently at the screen in the courtroom on Wednesday and listens to his brother as he tries to convince the interrogators that he has nothing to do with his sister's disappearance.
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During the interrogation, Mahdi H. is shown a surveillance video from the Berlin-Südkreuz train station.
You can see him and his brother carrying an obviously heavy suitcase.
The policewoman and her colleague keep asking Mahdi H. what was in the suitcase.
Only his brother's clothes, says Mahdi H., nothing else.
"The suitcase looks very heavy," remarks the inspector.
"Because a foot was broken, we had to carry it," replies Mahdi H., meaning that the suitcase could no longer be rolled.
Her colleague asks again: "Tell me what was in there?" "Nobody fits in a suitcase," replies Mahdi H. The swivel chair he's sitting on rocks back and forth.
Lots of contradictions
Mahdi H. claims to the police that his brother Yousuf took the train alone to Donauwörth, where he lived, on July 13.
He himself had an appointment with his supervisor that day in Berlin.
The supervisor has already testified in court that there was no appointment with Mahdi H.
And Yousuf H's partner reported that she picked up both brothers from the train station in Donauwörth.
The defense protested in vain against the showing of the interrogation video at the trial.
The lawyers complain that Mahdi H. was not sufficiently informed about his rights as an accused and that the interpreter translated incorrectly in places.
The Chamber rejected her application not to show the film in court.
The judges want to decide later on the usability of what was said.
At the time of the interrogation, 34-year-old Maryam H. was still missing.
Two days after the interrogation, on August 5, 2021, Yousuf H.’s partner led the investigators to her body.
The dead lay buried in a small forest around 30 kilometers from Donauwörth.
Maryam H. had been throttled and strangled, her throat severed.
A blue garbage bag was placed over her head and her hands were tied with duct tape.
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This Friday, a DNA expert from the Berlin State Criminal Police Office reported in court that the fingertip of a disposable glove was found between the layers of adhesive tape around Maryam H's right wrist.
The experts managed to secure a minimal mixed DNA trace, which points to Maryam H. on the one hand and Mahdi H. on the other hand as the culprit.
When asked by his defence, the expert said it was no longer possible to determine whether Mahdi H's DNA was on the outside or inside of the fingertip.
The friend as the reason for the murder?
Maryam H. lived with her two children in a home for refugees in Berlin.
Several witnesses testified in court that Maryam H. did everything for her brothers.
She gave them money, cooked for them, washed their clothes, and endured their beatings and humiliations.
Maryam H. was a religious woman who cared about her family.
She tried to keep her boyfriend a secret from her brothers.
Maybe she didn't succeed.
The public prosecutor assumes that Maryam H.'s Afghan family did not agree with her lifestyle and decided to kill her.
On July 13, 2021, Maryam H. had an appointment with her brother Yousuf.
Allegedly he wanted to visit an apartment with her.
Her son reported how his mother said goodbye to him in the morning.
It was the last time he saw her.