On January 15, 2019, 15 of the 18 defendants in the “Basel”-process have been found guilty of willful damage of property, actual bodily harm, breach of the peace, multiple acts of violence, threats against public authorities and officials and breach of the traffic laws.
The preposterous sentence ranges from 20 months conditionally to two years, up to 27 months unconditionally. Thereby the three judges of the criminal court of Basel city followed the claims of the prosecution in most parts. Some persons even had to pay an additional fine of 200,000 Swiss franks for the violation of the ban on wearing face coverings, as well as individual fines – between five and ten daily fines in lieu of jail time – for insults, violation of the gun control law, trespassing or hindrance to an official act.
The amount of the fine seems even more preposterous in the light of the court rating various charges of the prosecution as unfulfilled (e.g. multiple attempted severe assaults, raids or disturbances against the public transport). The main cause therefor was, that the court held on to the controversial construct of co-offendership – for all to bear the blame equally – and in their verdict supported this intensified interpretation. All this despite the fact that none of the tangible crimes could be associated with any of the defendants and furthermore the statements of one of the main prosecution witnesses were declared not usable by the court.
No evidence for the resolution to commit a collective offence was left. Nevertheless the court was of the opinion that from the established damage to property and the available video recordings it was apparent that they dealt with a homogeneous group, who from the beginning aimed at committing criminal property damage and to attack – in case of police intervention. In that case, according to the court, it would not have been necessary to prove any of the defendants guilty. All of the participants of the demonstration could be seen guilty just by walking along and their alleged ideological complicity.
Same as the prosecution, also the court appeared unimpressed by the fact, that there was almost no evidence for the individual’s participation at the demonstration of the 24th June. The culpability of the 13 people that were arrested that night in Basel, seemed to be certain to the court anyway. In some cases the argumentation was based on traces of DNA on moveable items, and in others where such were not found, with the alleged affiliation to the left scene, based on assumptions from police reports or a list of convicted people, which was found during a house search performed after the demonstration.
There are millions of ways to make possible an item with traces of DNA reaches a certain place. Even the federal court decided that a DNA-Hit does not count as evidence but solely as a clue. Nevertheless the court did not seem to be bothered by that: besides those people arrested that night, two other people of whom they only found traces of DNA on everyday items near the route of the demonstration, were arrested as well.Acquittal was won solely for the three people who were accused of just sending an SMS to one of the other defendants on the concerned day.
Alongside the horrendous fines the concerned people have to pay high negotiation costs (roughly about 176,000 Swiss franks) as well as claims for compensation of more than 141,000 Swiss franks. The court endorsed these demands and convicted the defendants of a solidary and unrestricted settlement. This means, that all of them have to pay the whole claims for compensation. So the private claimants can pick single persons and burden them with the whole sum of damage done.
The said sentences make clear, that the court – as well as the prosecution – wants to construct a political network, depoliticize and criminalize political protest. Punishing individuals in the hardest ways possible, is a clear threat to everyone who did not stand trial today: whoever resists the authoritarian system of the state and its laws will be punished and locked up!
The first act in this tragedy of the provincial understanding of the law, ends on this grim note. However, during the trial several lawyers already announced that they gonna appeal against this verdict. We hope for great stamina for everyone who stood trial today and those who will carry on the proceedings!
Let’s not be intimidated!
Solidarity with all people concerned!
“Ultimately, one has to be able to rely on such police reports, otherwise judiciary will not function anymore!” – Dominik Kiener (presiding judge)