The murder of a brother and his sister is tried before the regional court in Bremen. The accused claims to have acted “out of honor.”

The staircase to the Bremen Regional Court;  A femicide trial is currently underway there against a man who claims to have killed his sister to restore his honor.

The murder of a woman at the hands of her brother is being tried before the regional court in Bremen. The defendant wanted to establish her “honor.” Photo: Sina Schuldt/dpa

BREMEN taz | The screen in the courtroom of the Bremen regional court shows Ilham A. with a blue headscarf covering her face. The portrait photograph is poorly lit, it is difficult to see what A. looks like in the image or if he is smiling. Some women in the audience are sobbing; They are common sisters of the murdered and the accused.

“I want to put a face to the person who was murdered,” Judge Gesa Kasper explains her decision to show the photo. “In a murder trial, of course, the focus is always on the accused,” she says. “We will meet Mr. A. during the course of the negotiation. But we can no longer know the person who was murdered.”

Kasper will preside over the so-called honor killing trial in the coming weeks, probably until the end of May. Mohammed A. is accused of stabbing his sister to death in his Bremen-Walle apartment. A. does not deny being the author; He surrendered to the police immediately after the crime and justified the murder by saying that he had to restore his honor. A feminist alliance had already protested in December against the act, calling it an “honor killing.” It is a feminicide and the term honor killing obscures the misogynistic dimension.

According to the prosecution, on December 9, Ilham A.'s 23rd birthday, the defendant rang the doorbell late at night and was let in. According to the prosecutor, he then stabbed his sister's upper body several times in her bedroom with a kitchen knife “with intent to kill and with considerable effort.” Vital organs, heart, lungs and liver were injured. Ilham A. died at the scene.

Planned approach

Apparently immediately afterwards, Mohammed A. called the police. The recording of the emergency call plays in the courtroom: “I just killed my sister,” A. says there. The crime does not seem to have been committed emotionally, but rather planned: A. told the police officer who handcuffed him at the crime scene that he had already packed his suitcase to go to prison. In his apartment are letters to his other sisters and his fiancee.

“I can continue living without a future, but not without honor,” reads the judge; her sister “tried to live like a bitch.” He apologizes to his other sisters and her fiancée for “leaving you alone now.” He boasts to a recipient who has yet to be defined in detail at trial: “I was also a man like you.”

While there is little doubt about the identity of the perpetrator given the confession and the motive remains unclear but mentioned, A's defense attorney indicates that he wants to address the defendant's mental state at the time of the crime. He himself saw A. in a particularly special state the morning after the crime. During his interrogation, shortly after midnight, A. himself stated that he had consumed alcohol, cocaine and cannabis. However, the breathalyzer test performed showed a blood alcohol level of 0.0.

The three police officers who had contact with A. at the scene and who are being questioned as witnesses before the regional court describe the accused as extremely calm and collected when he was arrested. “He was very calm. “I’ve seen people much more enthusiastic about the little things,” explains a police officer on the stand. “If you're looking for the light, the switch is on the right,” A. said as he was led down the hallway shortly after the crime, another police officer recalled. “It was a strange thought for me to say that in that situation.”

Another sister, her two children and an acquaintance were present at the time of the crime. The children and their sister left their rooms after the police arrived; The children were crying, the sister seemed “increasingly hysterical” and she apparently began an argument with the defendant, police officers said. The sister will be called as a witness at the next court session in early May.

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