Trial of 250,000 criminal offenses nears end, dark web services via servers in former German bunker bunker

The Trier "cyberbunker" trial of an underground computer center as a platform for criminal operations on the dark web has always impressed with its numbers.

Nearly 250,000 criminal offenses are said to have occurred while running dark web services from 400 servers in an old bunker in Traben-Trabach, with millions of dollars worth of transactions involving drugs, counterfeit money or cyber attacks. And investigators worked on the case for five years until hundreds of police officers busted the operators in September 2019.

For nearly a year, eight defendants have been on trial in Trier District Court." One of the largest cybercrime trials in Germany to date" - that was the title given to the proceedings by the Office of the Attorney General in Koblenz, to which the National Central Office for Cybercrime belongs, at the start of the trial on October 19, 2020. The seven men and one woman are accused of setting up a criminal organization and aiding and abetting 250,000 criminal offenses.

After more than 100 witnesses, thousands of pages of files and dozens of trial days - sometimes twice a week - the trial is now slowly drawing to a close. Or at least the depositions. Michael Eichin, defense attorney for the main defendant, the Dutchman, said the court hopes to conclude its approval by the end of September. Then, the defense will file a motion to present evidence. Finally, a demurrer will be filed: each of the eight defendants will have two defense attorneys. The trial is scheduled to end by the end of 2021.

Attorney Sven Collet estimates that the trial could end in mid-November. "I expect that we will definitely be through by the end of this year." He represents Calibour GmbH, which operates a data center advertised as a "bulletproof host" ("bulletproof," preventing police from entering) and whose sole representative is the main defendant.

A central question in the massive trial is: Is it possible to prove that the defendants aided and abetted - that is, did they know about their client's illegal conspiracy? and that they let them do so? In Eichin's view, there are many indications that "aiding and abetting may not happen. But what remains up in the air, of course, is the formation of a criminal organization." Even if he doesn't think it's plausible.

Collet adds, "You have to prove aiding and abetting for each individual case. It's difficult, he says, because the computer center is really nothing more than a safe deposit box." As long as we can't open it ourselves and see what's inside, we don't know what people are putting in it. With criminal gang allegations, he said, one has to look at who that might apply to. "That's not true for everyone."

When asked about the status of the lawsuit, the court was reluctant to say. "The depositions are still ongoing," the press office said. The fact that the trial is taking so long is "due to the scope of the trial materials." Investigators heard it in most cases. However, this may not be the longest trial in Trier District Court.

Hearings continued Sept. 27 and 28, and the results have not yet been made public. The press office added: "The further development and duration of the proceedings will depend in particular on the conduct of the defense of the defendants. The defendants are four Dutch nationals, three Germans and one Bulgarian national. "

Lawyer Eichin criticized that "serious flaws in the investigation" were repeatedly revealed during the trial. For example, in the evaluation of the servers." They claimed that there was nothing legitimate on these servers. Then it was discovered that only 5 percent of the data had been analyzed." His client should have known that all this was "ridiculous".

Personally, he was troubled by the "really, really one-sided" investigation by the prosecutor's office. They really only looked at what was suspected of being criminal, and exculpatory evidence was completely ignored. He said the "hunting instinct" was clear that they wanted to finish the program they had been working on for five years. "But you have to imagine. In some cases, people have been in pretrial detention for two years."

Ultimately the trial will not be decided in Trier, Eichin said. "Whatever the outcome, it will certainly go to the federal Supreme Court." A constitutional complaint may follow, he said. "This will all take time. And then maybe in four to five years, we'll know exactly what it's going to look like. That's the only way no one will remember." Manheim's attorney said.

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From:On DarkNet – Dark web News and Analysis
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