The Frankfurt Regional Court found a right-wing police chat group insignificant and did not allow charges to be brought. The Public Prosecutor’s Office complained. The upcoming decision is landmark.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Frankfurt am Main has asked the Regional Court to open a main trial against police officers of the 1st Precinct in the Main metropolis. The case concerns the prosecution of racist and anti-Semitic statements in a chat group called “Itiot meeting” (spelling in original) as well as other chats with up to 28 participants, some of whom are not police officers. The court had previously decided not to allow charges to be brought. The facts of the case were first reported last week by the “FAZ”.
In its statement, the Attorney General’s Office wrote that criminal content had been disseminated in 83 of the 101 acts charged. This was the result of an examination by prosecutors of the Central Office for Combating Extremism and Terrorism in Hesse. The department is also part of the Office of the Attorney General and supports investigators in terrorism proceedings and international law offences. In addition, it is supposed to coordinate investigations in the field of politically motivated crime.
In the case of the right-wing chat group, the Central Office has, according to the “FAZ”, thoroughly examined 40 files with about 12,000 pages. The Prosecutor General’s Office is now of the opinion that its appeal against the Regional Court’s decision to discontinue the case has a “predominant” chance of success.
The prosecution came across the chat group “Itiot meeting” by chance when they were investigating the “NSU 2.0” complex – a connection whose name was inspired by the terrorist group “NSU”. Alexander M., who was later sentenced to six years in prison, had threatened the Frankfurt lawyer Seda Başay-Yıldız several times with this acronym. A fax, in which the lawyer’s daughter was also threatened with violence, contained personal data that had evidently been retrieved from the 1st police station.
The “Frankfurter Rundschau” was apparently able to see the postings of the “Itiot meeting”. According to this, among other things, Hitler pictures, swastikas and trivialisations of the Holocaust were shared. Migrants, homosexuals, Jews, Muslims and black people were made fun of. Alan Kurdi, a Kurdish boy who drowned while fleeing across the Mediterranean, was also mocked several times.
After completing its investigations into the “Itiot meeting”, the public prosecutor’s office brought charges against five police officers of the station and the partner of one of the officers a year ago. They were accused of incitement of the people, using symbols of unconstitutional organisations, insulting religious or ideological beliefs, possessing and distributing pornographic writings and depictions of violence.
The Frankfurt Regional Court refused to open main proceedings in February 2023. Since the chat groups were closed, small and exclusive, the element of dissemination of the criminal content was missing. This dissemination in the criminal law sense was only present when the addressed group of persons was “no longer controllable for the perpetrator”, the court says. The public prosecutor’s office immediately filed an appeal against this decision.
The competent senate of the Higher Regional Court must now decide on the Prosecutor’s appeal. If the indictment is admitted after all, this would be a trend-setting decision for other federal states as well.
With the same reasoning as the Frankfurt Regional Court, the Münster Public Prosecutor’s Office recently dropped 15 preliminary proceedings against members of a special task force. These police officers had also shared Hitler images, racist and misogynist content as well as sexualised depictions of children and youths in a Whatsapp group. Due to its manageable size, the group had not disturbed the “public peace”, the prosecuting authority found.
Published in German in „nd“.