Process of g20 riots: judges doubt police work

The process of riots on Hamburg’s Elbchaussee at the G20 summit will take significantly longer. The judges want to be loud NDR research no longer rely on police notes and therefore summon more witnesses.

By Stella Peters, NDR

In the criminal proceedings surrounding the violent riots on Elbchaussee during the G20 summit in 2017, the court expressed doubts about the police investigation files. In a decision of the competent criminal chamber of the Hamburg Regional Court, it is said that the "written word" is "little reliable". Four Germans and one French are charged. They are negotiated in camera.

According to research by the NDR, witnesses are said to have decidedly denied statements during their interrogation during the main hearing that the police had noted in the investigation file on their behalf. Witnesses are said to have called police notes "nonsense" and asserted that they had never made such statements. According to the research, the judges no longer want to rely on "further police notes" and instead summon significantly more witnesses than originally planned.

"Working hypotheses" and "suggestive edits"

After questioning the chief investigator of the police, the judges also came to the conclusion that "little can be supported" on his final report, after the officer himself had described the alleged results of the investigation as "working hypotheses" during his interrogation. The videos of the march on the Elbchaussee during the G20 summit are not as informative as it first appeared. This is especially true if you watch the videos without the "suggestive edits" of the police – from the judges’ point of view. For the identification of the accused French, an expert report was now required.

Upon request, a court spokesman confirmed the NDR research. The Chamber’s statement that "the word ‘written in the file’ can hardly be relied on" is also correct. With this statement – the spokesman continued – it was not meant that facts were wrongly documented by the police – but simply not exhaustive. The judges’ assessments are based on a written decision by the court on March 1, 2019 to assign a second public defender to each of the five defendants.

Originally, the Higher Regional Court assumed that the reading out of police investigative notes would keep the number of personal witness interviews during the main hearing manageable. According to the court spokesman, this expectation has not been confirmed. The decision of March 1 also states that even from the point of view of the police "everything is by no means as clear as the final report suggests". The process will therefore last at least until September – a judgment was originally expected in May.

The public prosecutor’s office did not want to comment on the matter because of the ongoing proceedings. The police said they agreed with the court spokesman’s statements.

Participation admitted

Investigators had identified the defendants on video recordings as participants in the march on the Elbchaussee. In the meantime, the four Germans admitted to having been there on the morning of July 7, 2017 on the Elbchaussee. The police and the public prosecutor’s office have not yet found any evidence that they had committed violence there personally or were armed.

Nevertheless, the public prosecutor accuses the young men between the ages of years of serious breach of the peace. You should be liable for all property damage that was caused by the march: The sum should amount to around one million euros.

Because of the violent riots during the G20 summit in 2017, the Hamburg police were under great pressure from the start. The pictures of the destruction in the Elbchaussee went around the world. According to the police, 220 people rioted for almost 20 minutes unmolested in the posh residential street and a neighboring pedestrian zone. The rioters were able to flee before the police arrived. To date, no one has been convicted of the serious damage to property.

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