In the trial of the murder of Walter Lübcke (CDU), the main defendant, Stephan Ernst, heavily incriminated his defense attorney Frank Hannig in the summer of 2020. The neo-Nazi claimed that the lawyer had urged him to confess to lying in order to incriminate the second accused Markus H. The public prosecutor’s office in Kassel clarified the allegations – and now came to a clear conclusion.

The public prosecutor’s office in Kassel has dropped the investigation against the Dresden lawyer Frank Hannig in connection with the trial of the murder of Walter Lübcke (CDU). Hannig had been prosecuted on suspicion that he had instigated the main defendant, Stephan Ernst, to make false suspicions – specifically to make a false confession that wrongly incriminated a third party.

At the end of intensive investigations, the investigative authority came to the conclusion according to information from FOCUS Online: The allegations are unfounded, the proceedings against Hannig were discontinued (Az.: 1622 Js 37070/20). The decision was made on April 12, 2022.

Right-wing extremist Stephan Ernst, who was accused of murder and later sentenced to life imprisonment, made serious allegations against Hannig in the early stages of the trial. After making three different confessions, he suddenly claimed that his defense attorney, Hannig, had urged him to give false information to the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Frankfurt am Main.

Specifically, it was about the second confession. In it, Stephan Ernst surprisingly testified that it was not he, but his co-defendant neo-Nazi buddy Markus H., who shot the Kassel district president – ​​allegedly accidentally when the two wanted to confront the CDU politician about his refugee policy.

Shortly after the serious accusation against Hannig, Stephan Ernst separated from his public defender, citing the broken relationship of trust as the reason. Ernst’s new defense attorney, Mustafa Kaplan from Cologne, and the Kassel lawyer, Bernd Pfläging, who also represented Ernst for a while, later substantiated the allegations against Hannig as witnesses.

On September 7, 2020, the 16th day of the trial, Mustafa Kaplan stated that Hannig is said to have admitted to him that he made up large parts of the second confession. So it was his invention that Markus H. had the gun in his hand and a shot was fired. When Kaplan asked why he did it, Hannig replied that one could “lie” in criminal proceedings. “I was surprised that he admitted that he produced a lie,” said Kaplan before the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court.

The lawyer Bernd Pfläging also heavily incriminated Hannig in court. He explained that his client Stephan Ernst had told him that the “second confession” was Hannig’s idea. Hannig had pre-formulated this and presented it to him – Stephan Ernst – in a fully developed form. Hannig himself refused to testify about the allegations against him in his later hearing of witnesses before the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court.

After the massive allegations, the public prosecutor’s office in Kassel began “extensive investigations” against attorney Hannig. In December 2020, during a search of the law firm, Hannig’s “hand files” from the proceedings against Stephan Ernst were also confiscated. These were confidential notes from the lawyer about conversations with his client. When evaluating the material, however, the investigators found “no indications” of Hannig committing a crime, according to the hiring decision available to FOCUS Online.

In its further justification, the public prosecutor’s office in Kassel refers to the taking of evidence by the OLG Frankfurt and the – not yet final – judgment of January 28, 2021. According to this, Stephan Ernst’s description that his lawyer at the time pressured him into making a false confession was “ unbelievable”. This assessment follows from numerous other contradictions in which Ernst got caught up in the course of the main hearing.

In addition to the fact that Stephan Ernst presented “three completely different versions” of the murder, his allegations against Hannig lacked “a wealth of detail and inner coherence”, according to the court. His representations differed from the results of the further taking of evidence. In addition, Ernst has a pronounced “incrimination interest” in order to be able to distract from his own responsibility. In version 1 of his confession, Ernst stated that he had killed Lübcke alone. In version 2, he was allegedly an accomplice to Markus H., who accidentally shot the CDU politician. In version 3 he claims to have been at the scene of the crime together with Markus H., but shot himself.

According to the public prosecutor’s office, sufficient suspicion against lawyer Hannig could ultimately only be affirmed if the testimony of the later Ernst defense attorney Mustafa Kaplan before the OLG “decisive weight” would be attached. However, no verbatim record was kept during his interrogation, and he also wanted to “now comprehensively” make use of his right to refuse to testify. In this respect, his testimony at the time before the Higher Regional Court could be introduced in a future trial “at most by hearing other parties involved in the trial”.

“Ultimately, the evidence would then be extremely shaky,” estimates the public prosecutor’s office. It cannot be ruled out that Kaplan’s lawyer also “exaggerated or did not reproduce the alleged conversation with Hannig completely correctly”. Rather, the authority considers it unrealistic that an “experienced criminal defense lawyer like Hannig” should have voluntarily told a colleague that he “forced Stephan Ernst to lie” and thus wrongly charged a third party.

According to the Kassel public prosecutor’s office, the “facts and evidence” speak for the innocence of the Dresden lawyer. Therefore, the investigation conducted against him should be “discontinued”. Frank Hannig did not want to comment on the content of the process compared to FOCUS Online. All he said was: “Of course I’m relieved that the serious allegations against me are finally over.”

Walter Lübcke was shot in the head on June 1, 2019 on the terrace of his house in Wolfhagen, Hesse. Because of his open attitude towards refugees, he was regularly attacked and insulted by right-wing extremists online – and finally shot by Stephan Ernst. The judges sentenced him to life imprisonment, determined the particular gravity of his guilt and reserved preventive detention. The court acquitted the co-defendant Markus H. of the charge of aiding and abetting the murder. He received a suspended sentence for illegal gun possession.

The verdicts are not yet final because everyone involved in the process has appealed. Therefore, the case is now before the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe. The main hearing is scheduled to take place on July 28, 2022.