Hesse: Court overload: Six suspects released from custody

Pre-trial detention must not last too long, otherwise the suspects may have to be released.

Hesse: Court overload: Six suspects released from custody

Pre-trial detention must not last too long, otherwise the suspects may have to be released. That's exactly what happened in Hesse. Those released are accused of serious violent crimes.

Frankfurt/Main (dpa/lhe) - The Frankfurt Higher Regional Court has ordered the release of six suspected criminals from custody because their proceedings are taking too long. The arrest warrants were lifted, the court announced on Friday. The decisions are not contestable. In total, there are three different criminal proceedings, in one case with four suspects. They are charged with crimes such as attempted manslaughter.

The Hessian Minister of Justice Roman Poseck (CDU) regretted the delays in the proceedings. "This is a bad signal in our constitutional state, which should stand for consistent criminal prosecution," he said.

The background to the OLG decision are procedural delays at the Frankfurt Regional Court. One of the cases involves four suspects who are said to have tried together to kill two people at night on July 3, 2021 at the Frankfurt-Höchst train station. According to the court, the two victims of the attack, with whom there is said to have been a dispute before, suffered life-threatening injuries from beatings with sticks and stab wounds, among other things.

The OLG reported that some of those previously arrested by the police had been in custody for almost twelve months. The public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt filed charges in January of this year after swift and comprehensive investigations. The responsible jury chamber at the regional court has neither opened nor terminated a main trial in the five months since due to overload. This will also not be possible in the foreseeable future.

The reason for this does not lie in the specific case, but in a structural overload of the responsible criminal chamber with numerous custody cases that can no longer be dealt with in almost daily court hearings. "No remedy has been found so far," the Higher Regional Court stated.

In such criminal proceedings with detention on remand, however, speed is required - lawyers speak of the so-called acceleration requirement. The Higher Regional Court referred to the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court, according to which overburdening of the court cannot justify the continuation of pre-trial detention.

The situation is similar in two other criminal proceedings, in each of which a suspect was in custody. They too were set free. One case involves attempted manslaughter and aggravated robbery, the other involves attempted manslaughter and dangerous bodily harm. According to the Higher Regional Court, the charges were brought at the end of January and mid-February 2022 without the start of the trial being foreseeable.

Minister of Justice Poseck referred to the judicial independence of the district court. The Executive Committee decides on the distribution of judicial tasks. The district court in Frankfurt am Main has meanwhile announced that the two chambers in question have been significantly relieved by decisions made by the presidency on Thursday.

Poseck pointed out that three new posts had been assigned to the court at the beginning of the year. "It is important to me to significantly strengthen the courts through additional positions. The Frankfurt am Main Regional Court will also benefit significantly from this," he said.

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