A bathing trip on the Elbe almost ends with two dead: because a 15-year-old drowns, his brother lies in wait for his best friend and stabs the alleged culprit with a knife. The court sends the 19-year-old defendant to prison for seven years.
He does not make use of his right to the last word before the verdict is pronounced. Only after the presiding judge at the Hamburg district court, Georg Halbach, had already announced the sentence for the knife attack after the fatal swimming accident on the Elbe did the 19-year-old break out. "Seven years! For what?" the young Romanian shouts in broken German in the direction of the prosecutor, who is already packing up her things - revealing that he may have understood very little of what the judge had explained about half an hour earlier .
On June 18 last year, the accused's 15-year-old brother went to the Elbe with friends to swim. He goes into the water at the Falkensteiner Ufer near Blankenese, although he can't swim - and drowns. His best friend, who is also at the scene of the accident, says that he was unable to save the 15-year-old - this claim almost cost him his life the next day.
The accused brother of the 15-year-old, a "simply structured person who is not mentally up to par", as judge Halbach says, is a young man with no training, no job, but with a drug problem and a well-filled criminal record. "The accused was never brought up properly," says Halbach, which the 19-year-old's lawyer also confirms. His parents would have let him smoke and pot at the age of nine, would have never taken care of him, would have simply left him alone.
Even on the day of the accident, he was left alone with his grief over his brother, with his helplessness, with his anger. Instead of sending a crisis intervention team, the next day he only received a threat speech from the police, says the lawyer. Even at this point, the police warned him not to take revenge when he asked again and more urgently who was to blame, even though his little brother's body had not yet been found. When the 19-year-old found out from his father that his brother's best friend said he couldn't help, he believed he had finally found the culprit.
"I thought he had the opportunity to save my brother and didn't do that, so I was angry," he said at the start of the trial in January. Ever since he was a child, he has known that if something happens, you take revenge. "If someone kills my brother with a gun, I can kill him." In the event of an accident, he could only injure him. Convinced of this, he fetches a jackknife and makes his way to Kalischer Platz in Harburg's Phoenix district.
There he meets his brother's then 16-year-old best friend while he is eating a doner kebab under a tree and rams the knife four times in his back. The 16-year-old loses 2.5 liters of blood internally and externally, can only be saved by an emergency operation, narrowly avoids paraplegia and is still suffering from the attack, as judge Halbach says. "He was completely unsuspecting and defenseless," judge Halbach is convinced.
Accordingly, the court rated the act as attempted murder and intentional bodily harm. He acted insidiously, stabbed several times and not spontaneously. The motive was vigilantism, the court agrees with the prosecutor's claim after seven years in juvenile detention. His confession and his apology speak for the accused.
Originally, admission to psychiatry was also up for debate. An expert had certified the 19-year-old schizophrenia, which the accused rejected. The defense attorney, together with his fellow lawyer, advocates a moderate youth sentence of a maximum of three years in prison, speaking of a tragedy in his plea.
Not only that the death of the 15-year-old was a tragic accident that nobody could do anything about, as judge Halbach says. What's more, the victim's best friend had nothing to do with it either. He also didn't go into the water to save his friend. Rather, he invented the story of the failed rescue because he didn't want to be seen as someone who wouldn't do everything for his best friend.