Berlin - A
German-Russian man went on trial on Thursday accused of carrying out a
bomb attack on the Borussia Dortmund football team's bus in an elaborate
bid to make a fortune on the stock market.
Defence lawyers insisted that Sergei W., 28, didn't want to hurt
anyone and argued he would not get a fair trial in the football-mad city
of Dortmund where loyalties to the local team run high.
The blasts eight months ago shattered the team bus's windows and left
Spanish international Marc Bartra, 26, with a broken wrist. A police
officer also suffered inner ear damage in the April 11 assault.
W. was arrested 10 days after he allegedly remotely set off the three
explosive devices hidden in a hedge as the bus was leaving the team
hotel for a Champions League match.
His alleged motive was greed. Prosecutors charge that he had sought
to profit from an anticipated plunge in the club's stock market value
after the attack, by cashing in on so-called put options.
"The accused aimed to enrich himself," chief prosecutor Carsten
Dombert said of the defendant who sat, handcuffed and wearing a blue
shirt, in court, without speaking himself.
first feared a jihadist link after letters suggesting an Islamist motive
were found at the scene. But questions quickly arose over their
authenticity and an Iraqi man taken into custody was soon cleared.
Days later, police swooped on the suspect, an electrical technician,
and charged him with 28 counts of attempted murder, triggering
explosions and causing serious bodily harm.
He was staying in the same Dortmund hotel as the players, had a view
of where the fragmentation bombs went off and had bought the put options
on the team's shares on the day of the attack, prosecutors said.
Dortmund, also known as BVB, is the only football club in Germany that is listed on the stock exchange.
For his money-making scheme, W. had apparently taken out about €50 000 in loans to finance the purchase of options.
They could have been sold at a pre-determined price by June 17, more
than two months after the attack, when a sharp fall in the share price
would have promised up to €500 000 in profit.
Prosecutors said "a significant drop in the price could have been
expected if, as a result of the attack, players had been seriously
injured or even killed".
Instead, W. allegedly sold the options days after the attack, making just €5 900.
The head of Germany's federal criminal police, Holger Muench, said:
"We have never experienced such an attack that turned out in the end to
be such a perfidious form of stock market manipulation."
Prosecutors say the bombs each contained up to a kilogram of a hydrogen peroxide fuel mixture and around 65 metal bolts.
W. drew attention at the hotel, reported Bild daily, first by
insisting on a window room facing the front and then, in the pandemonium
after the blasts, by calmly walking into its restaurant to order a
Defence lawyer Carl Heydenreich charged that media leaks of investigation details had prejudiced the case against their client.
This was especially serious "because there is no other big German
city where the population identifies as closely with football as
Dortmund," said Heydenreich.
The lawyer had earlier played down the seriousness of the attack,
comparing it in a media interview to a half-hearted attempt to score a
"Only a single metal bolt ended up inside the bus... If a player
misses the goal from a distance of five metres, you have to ask
yourself: couldn't he do it or didn't he want to do it?"
Dombert called the comments "unspeakable and cynical" while lawyer
Ulf Haumann, representing the players, labelled them "tasteless",
stressing that "those aboard the bus were scared to death".
A day after the attack, Dortmund played their postponed game against
Monaco and lost, prompting then coach Thomas Tuchel to rail against UEFA
for not giving the players time to come to terms with their fear before
returning to the pitch.
W. faces life in prison if found guilty, although in Germany parole is usually granted after 15 years.
The trial continues on January 8.