A document with question marks

In the course of the inquiry against Tobias P. who is accused of arson against upper class vehicles, the prosecution stated in their final speech that it would be nessecary to impose a tough sentence to achieve general prevention. In the charge it is claimed that some citizens avoid certain parts of the city because of the arson attacks. This trend would have to be stopped and copycats detered from it through general prevention.

Who displaces who?
The words chosen by the prosecution are outrageous. This is a distortion of facts. The arguments of the radical left against the expulsion of financially weak people from certain districts is being modified and manipulated and in the end profiteers of gentrification appear as victims. The prosecution adopts the arguments of anti-gentrification activists and uses them for their own clientele. They claim that the „poor“ owners of luxury vehicles are forced to stay away from certain areas.
These people are no victims but symptoms of a process of expulsion whose cause is to be found in the decisions taken by the municipal government in favour of capital and against many of the people living in this city.

Far from a science-based foundation
So far the prosecution didn’t deliver empirical data to prove their allegation. This doesn’t astonish us at all as they are ambassadors of the state and therefore biased.
However, there is some data on the subject that proves the negative implication of the rising rents: Up to date statistics of the employment agency show that unemployed people who receive benefits from the state are displaced from the inner city into the outlying districts. In 2011 776 more recipients of benefits have moved to Marzahn-Hellersdorf than have acutally left the district. The newcomers mainly moved there from Mitte, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Pankow where they couldn’t find a flat anymore for the rent subsidy of 378 € that is payed by the Jobcenter. Looking at this situation, it means to ridicule the people concerned with expulsion if the greatest concerns lie with the owners of the charred bits of luxury.

A sensation of insecurity
The charge claims that arson leads to „insecurity“ in the „population“. But who does this really apply to? They are people who could bring money into the empty municipal chash boxes, investors that would like to transform the city according to the needs of capitalism. These people only make up a tiny percentage of the inhabitants of Berlin and are by no means representative for everyone living in the city. A sensation of insecurity among financially sound groups of people impairs the business and this increases the pressure on politicians to create an adequate atmosphere for optimal exploitation in the city. In this debate hardly anyone asks about the feelings and fears of the persons concerned with the expulsion.

Who speaks of security also has to talk about social security. Expulsion from the inner cities poses a serious problem for more and more people. Furthermore, education is connected to the income of families. A survey found out that the life span of people who live in districts with unsound social conditions decreases significantly. Tranditionally parliamentary policy doesn’t deal with these problems though, it is a mere profession of legitimation. The simulation of territorial security serves as exchange for the missing social security.

The criminologist and urban researcher Jan Wehrheim describes this mechanism as follows:
„When social security can’t be guaranteed anymore, the physical one is being demanded more vigorously. Politicians can present „law and order“ as an option and prove thier capacity to act as a replacement for their failure in the social sector or to cover up that social security is not even the political aim anymore.“

Politically motivated judiciary
It is not a surprise that the sentence in the case of Tobias was politically motivated and exceptionally hard. After all, this was the first claimed success of „operation sky glow“. Adding up to this, there was an enormous pressure through the media which made an impartiality of the court impossible. And so the scales of Justice were uneven once more.
All critical remarks and social indications were ignored and the socio-political consequences misconceived. The courtcase didn’t touch questions at all about who these people are that torch night by night the decor of the streets of Berlin that are degenerated into noble boredom and what reasons they have, what proceedings of urban policy and injustice move them. The social reasons of the popular sport of „torching cars“ remain in darkness – and obviously the court doesn’t care at all.

The courtcase shows us clearly: the ones should be frightened off who keep themselves well informed about what is going on in the city, and who draw conclusions from these informations. Who start discussions, critizise and unmask, and – as a last consequence – maybe somtimes go our on a nighttime stroll.
It is these well informed people who will realise which politically motivated sentences the prosecution demands and how the courts decide, following a certain political path. It is obvious that this is all about simulating a strong state and legitimating it, and not trying to frighten off potential copycats.

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

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.

Demo in Solidarity with Tobias, 29.09.2011

There was only little time to mobilize, nevertheless about 80 people joined the demonstration themed „Freedom for Tobias“. Tobias is accused of setting fire to cars and is held in pre-trial custody in the prison of Berlin Moabit.


Poster english

Press release: Tobias P. arrested again

Since 25th of September 2011 Tobias is held in pre-trial custody in the prison of Moabit (Berlin). He is accused of setting fire to a car at about 4:00 am in Rosenthaler-/ Steinstraße in Berlin-Mitte. Two undercover federal police officers arrested him. According to a judge detention is warranted because of strong suspicion that he has commited the arson and because of the alleged danger of flight.


Report from the Demo in Solidarity with Tobias, 29.09.2011

There was only little time to mobilize, nevertheless about 80 people joined the demonstration themed „Freedom for Tobias“. Tobias is accused of setting fire to cars and is held in pre-trial custody in the prison of Berlin Moabit.

At 7:30 pm the demo started and went down Turmstraße, Rathenower Straße and Alt-Moabit. When the prisoners caught sight of the demo, they greeted the people in the street.

A text that was read from the loudspeaker-van about the trial of Alex who got acquitted by three different levels of jurisdiction showed how willing the authorities are to exercise repression. There was also information given about the trial of Tobias in 2009.

At the end of the demo, some cops tried to harass the people who were taking part in it. The person who registered the demo was urged to tell the people to leave the street and stand on the sidewalk. When people didn‘t follow the orders, the cops put on their helmets and tried to shove them off the street, but didn‘t succeed. At the same time they threatened the person who registered the demo to accuse her of a regulatory offence, so she might end up with a fine. Just another emotional over-reaction by the cops when faced with their declared arch-enemy, the radical left.

District Court vs. arrest warrant

On February 15 the public prosecutor’s office was unsuccessful with its appeal at the regional court demanding to renew Tobias P.’s warrant. Due to the weak explanatory statement , which was drawn up by senior prosecutor Thomas Schwarz, it is no wonder that they did not succeed even in the second instance. Whether the prosecutors will give in or embarrass themselves by going to Superior Court of Justice remains to be seen. The judges at the Superior Court of Justice have recently shown many times that they do not know any “principle of proportionality” when it comes to arrest warrants issued against activists from the left.

Some thoughts from Moabit Prison

The cell is 6.20 × 2.60. It has a door with a peep hole and there’s a window. In front of it are thick bars which are already corroding,do not worry, they still keep doing. Probably the next one hundred years. Behind the bars, there is a tightly woven wire mesh to make sure the prisoners cannot exchange things.


Mail from Jail has arrived

When Tobias was put in pre-trial confinement in the autumn of 2009, a lot of people wrote him out of solidarity and provided him with information from outside. He, too, tried to send letters out, but the correspondence was often hindered by the sluggish judicial system and it seemed to be normal that they held back the mail for several weeks. In February 2010 the extent of this interference was illustrated impressively when the courts handed over the remaining mail. Also letters by which Tobias tried from inside to contact people were finally delivered after weeks of delay. A letter, for example, whichwas sent on December 16 2009, took one and a half months to be delivered. It is not a secret that the delivery of prisoner’s mail takes a long time, especially for political prisoners. However, it is clear here how repressive institutions routinely work to isolate the prisoners politically and socially. The large number of letters of solidarity shows that the instances of repression are not very successful, even if the letters arrived late.


Prosecutor calls for arrest warrant

After 43 days, Tobias P. was released from custody on the 29th of December. The prosecution presented an immediate appeal.A written justification is submitted later by senior public prosecutor Schwarz last week. In it, the prosecution maintains the strong suspicion and called the arrest warrant against Tobias put into execution again.