Publisher heir Alexander Falk had a steep career as an entrepreneur – but failed. He incited criminals from the red-light district to a lawyer. Now the BGH judges in the case.
Karlsruhe – After a shot at an opposing lawyer, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) will decide on Wednesday (3 p.m.) whether the verdict against the Hamburg publisher heir Alexander Falk will stand.
The regional court in Frankfurt am Main found the Internet entrepreneur guilty of inciting dangerous bodily harm – namely the shot at the business lawyer – and imposed a prison sentence of four and a half years. On the other hand, the 53-year-old went into revision in Karlsruhe. (Az. 2 StR 142/21)
The case and the trial
The district court considered it proven that Falk had commissioned criminals from the red-light district to attack the lawyer, who was preparing a lawsuit worth millions. The defendant had admitted that he had commissioned the alleged accomplices to steal data from the lawyer – and only with that. He wanted to prove his innocence in the economic proceedings. However, he had denied the charge of inciting the shooting.
At the oral hearing in early July, the top criminal judges in Germany showed no signs of a trend. Falk’s defense attorneys argued, among other things, that the act convicted was different from the originally charged incitement to murder. In addition, the two most important witnesses – who are believed to have carried out the actual crime – were not heard because they were abroad. The district court did not push the possibility of a survey by video enough. The representative of the federal prosecutor’s office, however, saw no reason to overturn the verdict. Among other things, he said that inciting the shooting was part of the charge.
The business lawyer was seriously injured in February 2010 in front of his house in Frankfurt with a shot in the thigh. The unknown perpetrator is said to have shot from about ten centimeters away. This was preceded by threats and an attack on the house with a sledgehammer.
The background to this was a business trial in Hamburg, at the end of which Falk was finally sentenced to four years in prison in 2008 for attempted fraud and aiding and abetting the falsification of accounts. He had very successfully invested money from the sale of the well-known city map publisher, which he had inherited from his father, and had become a star of the “New Economy”. In the meantime, Falk was considered one of the 100 richest Germans. He sold a company to England.
In a subsequent civil lawsuit, the lawyer who was shot represented the other side. It was about millions in damages. Falk had met the criminals in prison, whom he then hired, as the Frankfurt criminal trial revealed.
The almost year-long district court process surrounding the shot was peppered with bizarre details: The deliverer of a USB stick with allegedly exculpatory material chewed it up shortly before his arrest. A tape on which Falk gloatingly expressed himself about the assassination and referred to the lawyer as “Bazille” turned out to be cut and manipulated in several places.
In the end, the main evidence was a “grandma SMS”: This text message is said to have come from one of the accomplices commissioned and was received on Falk’s mobile phone five days before the shooting. He shouldn’t worry, grandma will get her “deserved spa stay”, it said. This can only be addressed to a client, said the presiding judge at the district court when the verdict was pronounced. Falk acted out of revenge, suppressed anger and offended honor.
The defense had pleaded for acquittal. She suspected that “something got out of hand” on site without Falk’s intervention. At the time, prosecutors asked for six years in prison.
The second criminal division of the BGH examines the Frankfurt judgment for legal errors. He can dismiss the appeal, change the judgment or, in the case of major deficiencies, refer it back to the district court for a new hearing. Until there is a final judgment, Falk is free. dpa