Dedicated to Ernst Zündel - Prisoner of Conscience
The concepts expressed in this document are protected by the basic human right to freedom of speech, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, reaffirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court as applying to the Internet content on June 26, 1997.
|News Archive||Printer Version||April 20, 2006|
"Safe Conduct?" for Ingrid Zundel to testify in Germany
Every single response to my tentative announcement that I was considering going to Germany to testify in Ernst's trial as to the ownership of the Zundelsite has been a horrified: FOR HEAVEN'S SAKES, DON'T GO!!!
The best response, I think, came from a supporter who simply wrote on a white sheet of paper: "Come into my parlor," the spider said to the fly ---"
So don't worry - I won't do anything foolish or reckless. Which does not mean this invitation can't be turned around and used to our advantage.
At any rate, especially for those of you who have had legal training, here is the letter I received. Your feedback is sought and invited.
Certified translation from original German into English language:
Landgericht Mannheim [Mannheim Regional Court]
Criminal proceedings against Ernst Zundel on suspicion of incitement to hatred and violence against segments of the population [Volksverhetzung] and other [penal provisions]
Dear Dr. Rimland:
The Mannheim Regional Court is considering examining you as a witness in the criminal proceedings against your husband, Ernst Zundel. The primary facts in issue are the setup and ongoing operation of the Internet site "Zundelsite.org." As an American citizen, you are certainly not obligated to appear following a summons from a German court in Germany. Moreover, no coercive measures may be imposed upon you. The court may, however, attempt to achieve your summons or your examination through officials in the USA by means of judicial assistance.
I should like to inform you in advance, however, that pursuant to § 1 No 2 of the German Code of Criminal Procedure [Strafprozeßordnung (StPO)], as the wife of the accused you have the right to refuse to testify anyway. In other words, even if you were examined by American officials by means of judicial assistance, you would not need to give any testimony in the matter. Pursuant to § 55 Para. 1 StPO, you also have the right to refuse to respond to such questions if answering them would place either yourself, a family member, or your husband in danger of prosecution for a criminal act. Based upon suspicion of your joint responsibility for the "Zundelsite.org" Web site, the Mannheim Public Prosecutor's Office is also currently conducting investigative proceedings against you on suspicion of incitement to hatred and violence against segments of the population, according to a notice from the Mannheim Public Prosecutor's Office. Given the current state of affairs, it is hard to conceive of questions to which a response would not place you or your husband in danger of criminal prosecution (primarily on suspicion of incitement to hatred and violence against segments of the population pursuant to § 130 of the German penal code [Strafgesetzbuch (StGB)]. You would therefore be fully entitled to refuse to give testimony pursuant to § 55 StPO.
In the present criminal proceedings against your husband, therefore, you could be examined in the matter only if you are prepared to give testimony. The court therefore requests that you notify it as to whether you are prepared to give testimony as a witness in the present criminal proceedings against your husband, or whether you are invoking your right as a witness to avoid self-incrimination pursuant to § 52 StPO or your right to refuse to divulge information pursuant to § 55 StPO. In this case, all further attempts to obtain testimony from you would be pointless.
If you are prepared to testify, however, then an examination in the main proceedings before the Mannheim Regional Court at a date to be determined would be the first option. The court would insure your safe conduct for this purpose, i.e. you would not be in danger of being arrested or otherwise bothered in relation to the aforementioned investigative proceedings by the Mannheim Public Prosecutor's Office. The expenses of your travel and accommodation would be reimbursed.
If you are not prepared to appear for examination in person before the Mannheim Regional Court, examination via a videoconference link would also be possible. You would then travel to an as yet undetermined location in the USA, such as a German consulate in your vicinity, and the sound and image of your testimony would be transmitted to the courtroom. If you are not prepared to do this, then there is the final option of having a consular official conduct your examination on commission. Your personal testimony in Mannheim or examination via videoconference link would be preferable, however, because the participants in the proceedings, including your husband, would then have the opportunity to address questions directly to you.
In conclusion, I therefore request your response to the following questions:
I would like to point out that you are not obligated to answer these questions. In the interest of expeditious handling of the present criminal proceedings against your husband, which would surely also be important for you since your husband is in pretrial detention, the court would be very thankful if you would show your cooperation by answering the questions listed above. Otherwise the court must consider an attempt to approach you through officials in the USA by means of judicial assistance.