Report from the trial

Tobias is accused of having set fire to three cars in Rosenthaler and
Steinstraße in Berlin-Mitte on the 24th of Semptember 2011 at 3:50 am.
Tobias got arrested a few corners farther by undercover federal police
officers. He stayed in pre-trial custody until 30th of November 2011 when
he was released on condition until he has to start serving his sentence.

The trial took place in hall 701 with a special high security standard
that was ordered by the court. Everyone coming to observe the trial was
searched, patted down and their id-cards copied. After leaving behind all
their things, the observers could enter the court hall.

The trial started a little late at 9:45 am. First, the accused was asked
some standard questions to confirm personal data. In this context Tobias‘
first pre-trial custody in 2009 was mentioned, although he was never
prosecuted for what he had been accused of.

After this, the court read out the charge and expatiated upon the
different cars with their individual damages.

9:50 am: the court presented the offer about a settlement in the criminal
trial with a maximum sentence of 2 years and 10 months. After the trial
Tobias would be entitled to a suspended custody. The investigation into
Tobias‘ case in 2009 would be stopped and the charge of unlegal possesion
of arms (it was only pepperspray to keep animals at bay) would be dropped.
The sentence could only be tightened by a higher court, but in this
current trial the limit of the sentence was fixed. The prosecution as well
as Tobias‘ lawyer Henselman accepted the offer.

After this, the court asked Tobias to give more personal details. Tobias
refused and his laywer stated: In the past the press repeatedly violated
the privacy of Tobias and his social environment. He was publicly
threatened by people with their violent phantasies that based on
information taken from the media. Then the lawyer talked about Tobias‘
financial situation, his school education and professional background and
the professions of his parents.

At 10:00 am the court started taking evidence. The testimony of BHK Kubike
was read out and placed on the court records. He stated that he was called
for securing the evidence of the cars. Apparently the state lawyer
Kaminski instructed him to seize the burned out cars as fast as possible.
10:10 am: it was explained what time and in what intervals the blood
alcohol concentration of Tobias was tested. But, in the end, this had no
influence on the sentence. With the testemony of KOK Misch the details
about the damage of 36000 euros were read out.

10:15 am: reading of the search protocol that listed the items Tobias was
carrying with him. It were commodity items like a purse, key, tobacco, two
lighters, mobile phone etc. Immediately afterwards a register extract was
read out about the criminal record of Tobias that showed no connection
with arson and bodily harm.

10:20 am: the only witness, the criminal officer Christian Laternser from
the „BAO Feuerschein“ (glow of the fire) who exclusively deals with arson,
was heard. He spoke about the summarized reports of all of the nine cops
who were involved with the operation that night. According to them, Tobias
was suspicious because he was looking about in the dark. They decided to
follow him. At the first car, he wasn‘t seen setting a fire, at the second
one he was observed squatting close to the car and at the third they saw
him tamper with something. When the cops addressed him, he got up, but was
arrested immediately.

10:25 am: all parties were presented with insight into the draft of
movement, drawn by Tobias. After this Tobias‘ lawyer questioned the
witness why no-one extinguished the fire at the second car to prevent
damage, since there were supposed to be severel cops close to Tobias. The
cop wasn‘t able to give a straight answer and explained vaguely that
chasing the alleged perpetrator had priority.

10:30 am: the gathering of evidence was closed, the witness Christian
Laternsa was dismissed and the speeches of prosecution and defense were
presented. State lawyer Kaminski started with her pleading: she sees the
charges as proven and counts the late plea of guilty as a consequence of
back-breaking evidence. For the assesment of sentence, she mentioned
alleviating sircumstances as being under the influence of alcohol, the
alleged spontaneity of the action and the fact that concerning the third
car it was just attempted arson. When going on with her pleading, she
dismissed these facts and presented arguments for a high sentence: in her
opinion, Tobias has a previous conviction for a similar offence. Because
of the high damage and for reasons of general prevention she pleaded for
an extraordinary high sentence. On her opinion, the abstract danger caused
by burning cars shouldn‘t be disregarded. Kaminski obviously assumes that
cars explode as seen in action movies with parts flying all directions
which could even cause an area-wide fire in the inner city. For this
reason she demanded to impose the highest sentence possible of 2 years and
10 months and argumented against a suspension of the sentence on
probation.

10:40 am: Henselmann started his pleading for Tobias. He repeated that
Tobias confessed and critisized the disproportioned demand of a high
sentence by the state lawyer. According to him, it displayed a hostile
climate in society towards people burning cars that is pushed by the
media. Henselmann critizised, the demanded sentence stood in no adequate
relation to other comparable felonies. The loss for the damaged third
party would be just as high as if the car would have been stolen.
Furthermore, he condemned the calls for pre-trial custody by the media in
other cases. Also in this case, the cheap propaganda had consequences as
Tobias‘ being put in pre-trial custody too hasty. The media often chooses
to forget the legal preconditions when demanding pre-trial custody for an
alledged culprit: not only does he or she have to be under strong
suspicion, there also has to be danger of escape or obscuration.
Subsequently, Tobias‘ lawywer scandalised that details from his defendands
life and his parents were published in various mediums. Henselmann
dispelled circulating conspiracy theories, stating that Tobias only would
have set cars on fire to take pictures of them and sell these afterwards.
In addition, the lawyer stressed that it wasn‘t the time for general
prevention, since there was currently no wave of arson on cars which would
have had to be confiened through high sentences. Momentarly, the number of
arson on cars is declining. In the case of general prevention, there are
imposed higher sentences than adequate to make an example, and therefore
the moment for such an example should be chosen carefully.
After this, Henselmann closed his pleading with thoughts about the
assigned sentence and the demand to suspend it on probation. He refered to
the comperatively little damage caused by the burning of cars which is
generally payed by the insurance companies and doubted the danger of
exploding cars as explained by Kaminski. Also the criminal aspect of the
felony would be small compared to other damage to property because in the
end it was only car body damage.

Following, the court retired to deliberate. At 11:35 the sentence was
passed. The judge announced a custody of 2 years and 6 months and stayed
only 4 months behind of the request of the state lawyer. With this the
court also denied a parol which is only possible for a sentence with
custody less than two years.