After more than a month of detention, the date of the first hearing has finally been announced. There’s a good news: after verifications conducted by the German prosecution, the case has been assigned to a minor judge. The possibility of a detention of 6 months to 10 years is now just an unpleasant memory. But he will still spend a long time in jail. Luckily, he has received some of the letters sent from Italy and the UK [Skip to Italian version]
— Translated by Nathan Anyonge and Emilia Maria Pezzini
Federico Annibale is still doing well. He spends most of his time reading and writing. As seen by the message and poem we previously published, he hasn’t lost heart. But he has now spent more than a month in a single cell, in an area of Frankfurt’s prison dedicated to defendants subject to custodial measures that are awaiting trial (Untersuchungshaft). Federico is allowed to have no more than three visits a month together with a maximum sixty minutes of telephone calls. At least, his parents have informed us that he is finally receiving the multitude of letters sent from the UK and Italy, though late due to the easter holiday and to the practices involved in the control of prisoners’ mail. And there is some news: he will face trial beginning from the start of June, and will no longer be subject to a maximum trial of up to 10 years imprisonment.
As we’ve previously explained, Federico’s request to be released from prison on parole was rejected by the court on the 9th of April. This was due to a fear he would flee to Italy, though he had guaranteed permanence in the home of family friends in Frankfurt – one of whom is a german citizen – and all holding respectable and prominent positions. Since then Federico has had no choice but to consult with his lawyer and continue to wait for trail with no known start date. However during this time something took place.
German criminal law stipulates that judicial procedure takes place in a number of phases. It starts with an investigation (Vorverfahren) conducted by a public prosecutor and the police to ascertain the suspects of the crime and formulate a possible indictment. This took place and ended on the 9th of April for Federico, with the prosecution filing for the severe indictment of Schwerer Landfriedensbruch. This, according to Article 125 A of Criminal Code, can result in a penalty of six months to ten year. The investigation is followed by the process of verification of charges (Eroeffnungsverfahren) provided to the prosecution by the relevant court. During this stage the relevant court has the power to either reject, confirm or amend the charges. In Federico’s case, the judge’s verdict (Eroeffnungsverfaheren) which marks the end of the second phase, has resulted in the change of the public defender in charge and the assignment of the case to a district court (Amtsgerichte), with a new judge (Strafrichter) responsible for crimes whose penalties do not surpass a maximum penalty of two years. Therefore Federico’s case should enter the third and final stage of the proceedings (Hauptverfahren) at the start of June and conclude with a verdict.
Ultimately Federico risks a maximum sentence of two years, and while the situation remains dire, it is better than it was two weeks ago. But we should not forget that more than a month still remains before the start of the first hearing. Therefore, Federico will still have to be in prison for a long time waiting for the judge’s ruling. And this is what will continue to cause dismay amongst those that know him and are following his situation. Although German law is notoriously strict, specially in cases involving foreigners, the disproportionate amount of drastic measures adopted against Federico – who’s considered like a terrorist or an instigator of violence – despite his profile and upstanding record, is striking.
We repeat: Federico Annibale has no criminal record, he has no association with any violent or criminal groups, and was in no way involved in the organisation of Blockupy, the protest that took place in Frankfurt. He only participated as an individual, with friends from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, where he is currently studying for his master’s degree in Developmental Studies.
Stay Strong, we are with you.
Testata giornalistica iscritta al Registro della Stampa del Tribunale di Roma, autorizzazione n. 12 del 15 Gennaio 2013.