Appeal decision before the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court

21.02.2024, 7: 30 – After a 1,5-hour hearing, the first oral decision by a higher regional court on the Last Generation protests was issued yesterday. After an acquittal in Freiburg in autumn 2022, the public prosecutor's office appealed. The court decided: The Freiburg district court must hear again. However, the Higher Regional Court did not reject possible acquittals in this and similar proceedings. The process was watched with great interest and was accompanied by a vigil, solidarity supporters, and a subsequent protest march.

A supporter of the Last Generation campaigned for a food-saving law at three road blockades in Freiburg in February 2022. He was acquitted for this in November 2022. “The purpose of making drivers aware of the daily traffic burden caused by rush-hour traffic and CO2 emissions has a direct material connection to the blockade […]”, the judge at the time explained his decision. [1]

Since the public prosecutor's office had appealed against the verdict, the case was heard today at the Higher Regional Court in Karlsruhe. The verdict was eagerly awaited: people from Berlin, Leipzig, Stuttgart, Freiburg, Rhine-Neckar, Darmstadt, Ulm, Konstanz and Karlsruhe gathered in front of the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court from 9 a.m. to support the defendant. The trial began with music, singing and introductory speeches from supporters of the Last Generation, the Legal Aid Association RAZ eViG. and Amnesty International accompanied. The media interest was great.

After about 1,5 hours, the judges announced their decision: The entire case will be referred back to the Freiburg district court. The public prosecutor's appeal was upheld and additional findings should be made on the effects of the individual blockades.

Prof. Dr. Yeast flour, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Law at the University of Freiburg, explains the verdict: “The decision of the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court is neither trend-setting nor wise. It is not even prepared to show its colors and to continue the jurisprudence on the so-called sit-ins, which is increasingly perceived as absurd. She simply shrugs off responsibility. The hope: In the second attempt, another department of the Freiburg AG would kindly decide like the majority of the district courts.”. [2]

Zoe Ruge, managing director of RAZ eViG, who defended the acquittal before the Freiburg district court, made a similar statement: “Today the Higher Regional Court failed to position itself clearly and deal with the background of the blockades. Instead of asking in detail the question of how Art. 20A GG (protection of all our livelihoods) and Art. 8 GG (freedom of assembly) relate to one another, it went into detail about the impossibility of making a decision due to missing information.

Although the intended purpose was to 'establish an evaluative relationship', a political assessment of the content of the protest would then not be in order. This is disappointing as there would have been an opportunity to honor a vibrant civil society here today.”

Afterwards, the court explained to the press that this no rejection of possible acquittals but only corrections are necessary for a substantive decision.

In the afternoon, 50 supporters of the Last Generation took part in an announced two-hour protest march through Karlsruhe city center. The defendant stated at the final rally: “The protest must continue: in courtrooms, with the responsible politicians and at the places of destruction. For the future of all of us, for more justice”!