In January 2021, a 79-year-old man from Hesse was murdered. The alleged perpetrator was quickly caught and has been in custody since then. But the process never really got off the ground. Now he has burst for the time being and the accused is even at large.

It is a nightmare for the wife of the deceased: the process that is supposed to put her husband’s alleged murderer behind bars has been dragging on for 15 months. Now the Hanau district court has completely dropped the process, it is to be reopened – and the accused is now even free again after two years in custody. And all because a lay judge became so seriously ill that he can no longer take part in the process. This is reported by the “Bild” newspaper.

The accused Ralf H. is accused of having killed the 79-year-old Alojzij Zitnik on January 21, 2021 “out of greed and malice”. Zitnik was H’s landlord. Police believe the two had an argument that escalated. The trial against Ralf H started in November 2021. To date, there has been no result.

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Because pre-trial detention should generally last no longer than six months, the court has now ordered a break in detention and released the accused. However, under conditions: Ralf H. is no longer allowed to enter the workshop rented by the deceased, had to hand in his passport and, according to “Bild”, is obliged to report to the police in Büdingen twice a week and not to speak to any witnesses.

The lawyer for the victim’s widow, Michael Fürst, said: “This is a disaster for my client. She just can’t close it.” He criticizes that the court “didn’t work with foresight enough”. It could have ordered a replacement lay judge and a replacement judge from the start – “Then the process would not have burst.” It is not yet known when the process will be continued or reopened.