The rampage in Trier had caused horror nationwide. A man raced through the pedestrian zone in an SUV, deliberately killing and injuring passers-by. Now the alleged perpetrator comes to court.
Trier – Five people had no chance when the gunman caught them in the pedestrian zone and killed them. Targeted, indiscriminately and at high speed, he drove to passers-by in the busy shopping street in Trier with his powerful sports vehicle.
With the intention of “killing or at least injuring as many people as possible” – the public prosecutor put it. The rampage on December 1, 2020 lasted only a few minutes: In addition to the dead, it left numerous injuries, around 300 traumatized people and a city in shock.
The eagerly awaited trial of the alleged perpetrator begins this Thursday (August 19) in front of the Trier district court. The public prosecutor’s office accuses the 51-year-old of five murders and attempted murder in 18 other cases. 14 people were seriously injured in the rampage, four had been able to evade the vehicle at the last moment.
According to the court, the indictment will be read out on the first day of the trial. Witnesses have not yet been invited, said a spokeswoman. A total of 26 appointments are scheduled until the end of January 2022.
One thing is already clear: the process will open wounds again. According to the court, there are 14 joint plaintiffs. They represent relatives of victims or injured parties themselves. A nine-week-old baby, its father (45) and three women aged 25, 52 and 73 died in the act. Many of the injured fought for their lives for months. For many relatives, life has changed completely.
Motive so far unclear
For you and the citizens of Trier, a central issue in the process will be the question of the perpetrator’s motive. That is so far unclear. “There are still many unanswered questions about why,” said Trier Mayor Wolfram Leibe (SPD). “Why does a person do this? Why does he indiscriminately kill innocent people, injure others so badly that they will be marked by this act for the rest of their lives? ”That worries many.
According to the public prosecutor’s office, the German has so far “essentially claimed that he has no memory of the details of the crime”. It is therefore assumed that he acted out of personal motives. It was said that he was single, unemployed, without a permanent address and apparently frustrated by his personal circumstances. In order to clarify the background and the crime, the public prosecutor named a total of 291 witnesses, said the senior public prosecutor in Trier, Peter Fritzen.
For victims and relatives, the process is “a milestone in processing,” said Bernd Steinmetz for the Disaster Aftercare Foundation. The burden for those affected will depend very much on the course of the process. “If there was an admission to the question of guilt and the motive at the beginning of the process, that would be a huge relief for all concerned.”
If not, “the nightmare may continue throughout the entire process”. Steinmetz is involved in looking after the victims and their bereaved through the foundation.
According to a preliminary assessment of a psychiatric expert, the defendant suffers from a psychosis. The public prosecutor announced that the court would decide on the question of culpability at the hearing. At the time of the crime, the gunman had an alcohol concentration in his blood of 1.12 per mille.
The 51-year-old was arrested shortly after the crime: he parked the car after the fatal journey and smoked a cigarette. Police officers found the man standing at the rear of the car, the Trier police vice-president Franz-Dieter Ankner reported. “There he looked at the emergency services with a grin.” The officers then overwhelmed him.
The rampage had caused shock and persistent grief in Trier for days. Citizens put up candles in many places: at the places where people were torn to their deaths and at the Porta Nigra – in memory of the victims and their families. In the days that followed, Leibe said: “Trier mourns, Trier suffers, but Trier does not give up.”
Now he has announced that there will be a memorial service on the anniversary of the deed. “The rampage is still very much in evidence.” In the city, the victims should be remembered visibly in the future. How – that has not yet been decided and will be agreed with the relatives. Most recently, the bereaved had signaled that they would like to have a decentralized commemoration in the places where there have been victims.
So that deeds like these can never happen again in Trier, the city council recently decided on a concept to make the city center safer: The city is divided into ten zones that are separated from each other by barriers. A “crossing” from one zone to a neighboring zone is no longer possible. “This is to prevent vehicles from being able to pick up high speeds on long, straight stretches,” it said. For this purpose, bollards, solidly anchored benches and seating stones are placed in 38 places. dpa