EIt was a bitter defeat for the Berlin prosecutor's office: after a trial lasting three and a half years and 114 days, the Berlin District Court on Monday acquitted clan leader Arafat Abou-Chaker on all important counts. He was fined only for secretly recording the conversations. The prosecutor had clung to the increasingly hopeless case until the end, in his closing argument he demanded a prison sentence of more than four years for Arafat Abou-Chaker.

The prosecutor's office has not served the fight against criminal clans. This has provided fodder for people for whom the term “clan crime” is nothing more than a racist fighting term to be used to harass innocent citizens. However, the court also contributed to this, because it did not put an end to the process earlier. Rapper Bushido testified as a key witness in the 25-day trial, which essentially spanned four hours. Abou-Chaker allegedly locked his then business partner Bushido in his office for so long, threatened, injured and blackmailed him because he wanted to break up with him. The accusations were based almost entirely on Bushido's testimony, whose credibility the judge questioned with good reason in his decision.

At the beginning of the investigation, serious allegations were made against Abou-Chaker. In 2019, investigators accused him of inciting violence, including using a firearm, against other Bushido and rappers Farid Bang and Kollegah, along with other clan members. In addition, according to another indictment, Abou-Chaker planned to pay two people to kidnap Bushido's children and throw acid on his wife. At that time, the investigation files even contained the names of the men to whom this task would be given.

The term clan crime remains correct

However, the main witnesses came from Abou-Chaker's extended family circle, and they eventually retracted their statements. This is often the case with investigations in this environment: important witnesses suddenly do not want to remember anything anymore, either because of intimidation or because the conflicts were resolved by so-called justices of the peace away from the authorities. This makes it almost impossible for investigators to find witnesses.

Most acquitted: Arafat Abou-Chaker

Most acquitted: Arafat Abou-Chaker

Image: EPA

The term clan crime therefore remains accurate: it accurately describes the phenomenon of using family structures to organize and cover up crimes. The attempt by politicians to respond to this with a “thousand pinpricks”, for example, by constantly searching hookahs, in order to at least impose penalties for tax-free tobacco, seems quite useless. On the other hand, it is also correct in the long run not to tolerate the provocations of the clans – even if it only concerns second row parking.

Some clan members enjoy posing in expensive cars while receiving government broadcasts. Ownership is concealed. Arafat Abou-Chaker continues to live in a villa in Kleinmachnow that his son bought at a foreclosure auction. No one knows where he got the millions for it. He is being investigated. At the same time, the Potsdam tax office is auctioning the valuables confiscated from Arafat Abou-Chaker to collect the tax debts he owes.

There is another way

Investigators have recently shown elsewhere how successful action against criminal clans can be: with sober, in-depth research. Members of the Remmo clan have been convicted of grand burglaries, their properties have been confiscated due to unclear financing, and soon the clan members will finally have to move out of their confiscated villa in the Buckow district of Berlin.

It's nothing to do with family when five of Remmo's men are convicted of stealing jewels in the Green Vault and the sixth who is currently on trial for it googled “best burglary targets for beginners” at an absurdly young age. Regardless, of course, every crime must be proven in court.

Even if it's difficult for investigators: they can't therefore find a flamboyant witness who pushes his own agenda and then prosecutes clan members for years on relatively innocuous charges. Otherwise, they won't end up complaining about the accusation that no one with a German surname is treated like that.

Listen to a podcast about the verdict here.