Saturday, May 10, 2014

Global Impact: Update--German Diplomat Alludes to Possibility of Germany Litigating Crimes Against Germans Abroad

According to, the German government as said it could well investigate and prosecute Missoula US Forest Service firefighter Markus Kaarma, 29, who has been charged by Missoula authorities in the deliberate homicide of  German exchange high school student Diren Dede, 17, on April 27.

Mr. Dede was shot and killed four times with a shotgun after shooting Dede without determining that the German boy was unarmed.

In a letter to Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) on April 30, the German consul general in San Francisco said he has confidence in the ability of Missoula authorities to prosecute Kaarma under Montana laws.

Yet, the consul-general implied that Missoula authorities may not have the final word.

"You might find it useful to know that German penal law also applies for crimes committed against German nationals abroad, enabling German state prosecutors to open investigations in such cases," Consul General Peter Rothen wrote April 30.

In a reply, Bullock didn't address the feasibility of German litigation, but expressed his "profound sympathy" to the German government and Dede's family. 

COMMENT: "I am pleased to hear that the Missoula authorities have worked well with you and have been well received. I also appreciate your stated respect for Montana laws," Bullock replied on May 5. "I have a great deal of confidence in Missoula's law enforcement officials and our criminal justice system." 

Kaarma's attorney, Paul Ryan, plans to use the state's so-called Castle Doctrine, which provides for a defense in cases where a resident uses lethal force. The incident has brought international scrutiny to the doctrine and to Montana's culture of gun ownership.

That being said, and in the interest of transparency, I am a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), have safely owned and operated firearms since I was a boy, support the substance of the 2nd Amendment, yet it should be noted that even the NRA cannot subscribe to Mr. Kaarma firing into a darkened garage without FIRST determining whether the intruder posed no physical threat to him.

Please see the NRA's ten firearms safety precepts:

Consul-General Rothen said in his letter to Governor Bullock that he plans to attend the trial, should one occur.

"I do have trust and faith in the criminal justice system and they're acting appropriately," Bullock said Friday (May 9) when asked about the Castle Doctrine. "Everything that I've seen, it looks like they're going to ... charge the case and let the facts sort out. So I don't see this as a Castle Doctrine issue."

The Montana Department of Justice had no comment on Germany's assertion of possible jurisdiction in the case. Ryan's firm did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Mr. Kaarma remains free on $30,000 bond.