Mamadou Alpha Balde was acquitted of charges of dangerous bodily harm
On Friday, 07.02.2020, the RefugeeBlackBox Community Activist Mamadou Alpha Balde was acquitted of charges of dangerous bodily harm. He had been accused of having injured another person by hitting another person on the head with a beer bottle. In counterstatements the incident was described fundamentally differently, according to which the accused and his companions had been badly racially insulted by a group of white people, a physical confrontation had not taken place. The first day of the trial took place already on 20.01.2020 in the district court Stadtroda.
Right at the beginning of the trial, it was noticeable that the communication between the interpreter and the defendant was slow and not without mistakes. The interpreter's French seemed bumpy, which made it difficult for her to understand the defendant on several occasions.
Frequent queries from the interpreter had a potentially negative effect on the actually clear expression of the defendant and could therefore give the impression of implausibility. Against this background, the interpreter's reassurance, obtained before the trial, as to whether the defendant and other witnesses had attended school long enough and had the appropriate knowledge of French seems all the more absurd.
The first witness was a police officer who claimed to have observed a blow with a beer bottle. He described two groups that met in front of the Zapata Bar in Jena as "apparently Germans" and "Africans". From that point on in the proceedings, the judge and also the public prosecutor adopted this designation to distinguish the two groups. The witness stated that the defendant and his friends were difficult to distinguish, and the judge confirmed this narrative in her questions by saying that it was generally very difficult for "us" to "distinguish them". The policeman, however, stated that he had identified the accused by his clothing and, when asked by the judge, affirmed that no mistakes could be made in this regard. The policeman stated that he had seen the bottle smashed against the head of the alleged victim, but that no injuries had occurred. Following the argument, the police interviewed the individual persons, but the accused and his friends were not interviewed because of expected communication problems (all of the group involved in the trial spoke good German. One of them even made his complete statement in German).
None of the other witnesses claimed to have observed the alleged assault - although witnesses from both groups testified. It was also conspicuous that the alleged injured party did not appear at all on the first day of the trial and had to be presented by the police on the second. He then stated that he had no memory of the incident at all, as he had been drunk.
The accused and his companions all testified that they were repeatedly racially insulted by the group in front of the Zapata, whereupon they defended themselves verbally. A witness who happened to pass by the Zapata as a bystander confirmed the racist insults. He also pointed out that the police only arrived on the scene after the situation had already calmed down. In view of this statement, the accusation of the bottle hitting, which only the policeman claims to have observed, seems more questionable. The public prosecutor, defense and finally the judge declared that the evidence was unclear why the acquittal was granted.
While observing the trial, we noticed that the actors from the judiciary neither broached the issue of the racist assault, which was confirmed by several witnesses, nor prosecuted it legally, or at least responded to it empathically. Neither the racist insults nor a possible false testimony of the police officer was further pursued, as was confirmed by the audience after the end of the trial. With regard to the insults, the public prosecutor pointed out that they would have to be dealt with in another trial, of which he had no knowledge. However, it should be noted that insults will only be prosecuted if the offended party files a criminal complaint.
We were shocked, among other things, 1) by the racist use of language that distinguished the two groups in the trial, 2) by the obvious disadvantages that the accused suffered due to the inadequate use of language in the trial, 3) by how the obviously racist incident was depoliticized by the course of the proceedings and the behavior of the judicial actors, 4) by the fact that the accused was not allowed to use racist language in the trial, and 5) by the fact that the accused was not allowed to use racist language.) about how uncritically the court dealt with the realization that the entire trial had to take place only because of a meanwhile refuted the statement of a police officer and that an innocent person could thus be stylized as a potentially dangerous perpetrator of violence.
Despite an unquestionable acquittal, we were shocked to see how the courtroom was turned into a structurally and individually racist space. It is almost symbolic that the judge initially forgot to grant the accused his right to the last word.
Report from Jena by Refugee Law Clinic RLC | Abeitskreis kritischer Juristinnen AKJ
Solidarität beim Prozess gegen RBB Aktivist Mamadou Alpha Balde fand am 20.01.2020