The Zschäpe Case – Fundamental Questions for a Constitutional State

Beate Zschäpe’s public defenders in the NSU trial provided expert, intellectual insight while underscoring the importance of a constitutional state.

F.l.: Stahl, Sturm, Heer, Lukas
F.l.: Zschäpe's defenders Stahl, Sturm, Heer, Rector Lukas

JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas explained, "Our first-semester law students study this controversial, sensational legal trial right at the beginning of their studies to confront the rule of law in a constitutional state, even before taking regular law classes. The interest in today’s colloquium is impressive and confirms the importance of closely examining the idea of a constitutional state and its comprehensive achievements."

In the Zschäpe case, a former member of the "National Socialist Underground" was sentenced to life in prison (sentence pending) as an accomplice to ten counts of murder. The case has been a focus of attention for the legal system and those involved in the case for years. Public defenders Wolfgang Heer, Wolfgang Stahl and Anja Sturm spoke about the enormous public pressure in connection with the proceedings. The pressure was not only on them, but also on the judiciary system. They pointed out the difficulties in avoiding the pressure as the case was a source of immense media attention.

They also spoke about the financial aspects and other problems but emphasized the importance of having a strong defense: the constitutional state can only win when people are truly presumed innocent until proven guilty and can be defended accordingly. This is an essential cornerstone of our democratic system.