The district court of Karlsruhe, Germany sentenced the operator of the darkweb platform “Germany in the Deep Web” (DiDW), 31-years-old Alexander U., on Wednesday, 19th of December 2018, to a prison sentence of six years. The operator of the Darkweb Forum DiDW has been found guilty of negligent homicide due to the extended arms trading on his forum.
By far the most significant part of the punishment concerns the attack on the Munich Olympia shopping center in July of 2016 which resulted in the mass murder of 9 people and the death of the shooter. Although Alexander U. wasn’t the direct supplier of the Munich attacker, he was judged as a potential supplier, thus the negligent homicide prosecution. The rest of the punishment represents aiding in arms trafficking and “advertising” drug trafficking charges.
Initially, the prosecution asked for nine years and five months, claiming that the defendant aided both in weapons deals and drug sales. However, the court followed the prosecutor only partially. It dismissed some weapons trade accusations and lowered the “aid to drug trade” accusation to “advertising drug trade,” thus reducing the punishment.
The verdict is not yet final. The court allowed its decision to be revised. The two defense attorneys of Alexander U. said on that they would consider a follow-up call on arguing against the negligent homicide accusation. One of the lawyers, Heinrich Maul, is regarded as a revision specialist and was himself a judge at the Federal Court. The one-week revision period ends on the 27th of December.
The presiding judge Holger Radke said that with the juridic procedure against the DiDW operator is moving “on new juridical grounds.”
“A platform like this is a phenomenon of a new era. However, we must give answers to this with imperial standards.” The judge continued, “The Darknet does not exist. The net goal, which is meant by this term, is nothing forbidden. ‘Germany in the Deep Web’ was an anonymous platform from an original idea. That’s a beautiful thing. Because it is quite frightening how easily digital traces can be retraced. One must only think of countries in which freedom of opinion and the press are not so upheld as with us. If you would’ve created such a platform, you would have been well acclaimed. Unfortunately, you did not. The way you used the DiDW, you did a great disservice to your cause.”
This process was also particularly difficult because the main focus was on “one of the worst crimes after the Second World War” — meaning the attack in Munich. The court also heard the harsh words of the parents of a 14-year-old murder victim from Munich, saying that they no longer trust the prosecutors.
The forum had multiple categories. One of which was named “categories for the forbidden things” with two types of offers: “offer” and “offer certified.” Meaning that the defendant was checking most of the offers and deals himself. More so, in at least one case, a covert investigator “Gazza” received access to a weapons deal section by Administrator Alexander U. alias “Luckspax.”
“He had the gun area in view,” said Judge Radke. Although Alexander U. had moved the section into the category “Spackentreff” and referred to it, in his admission in court, as a “trashcan category.” He also claimed that “only scammers would appear” and that few deals were actually concluded. The judge agreed that both scammers and determined people roamed his forum: “We believe that weapons were traded there and the defendant did not care.” The judged continued saying that it’s impossible for such a smart individual with a computer science bachelor degree not to have realized the dangers of his deep web forum, especially in the light of so many terroristic attacks with dark web weapons. Some websites even speculated DiDW as being one of the possible sources for the terror attack in Paris at club Bataclan. To which the defendant, upon realization, had placed the weapons category temporarily offline.
“We are sure he accepted that real weapons were traded on the platform,” the judge said. “Any other interpretation would be foreign to the world and would mock the intelligence of the accused. Thus he had a share of responsibility for the actions of the Munich terrorist. It does not matter that he knew nothing about the actual weapons deal and also had no idea what the Munich assassin specifically intended. Alexander U. had it in his hand that the shooter could buy his weapon, the judge said. Had he paid attention and prevented the weapon deals, then he could have prevented the Munich attack. For the legal assessment, it does not matter that the Munich culprit might have looked elsewhere for a weapon. Alexander U. has attracted precisely the people who would like to have weapons, but never could legally buy one, namely, maniacs, psychopaths, and terrorists. Only such people are willing to acquire overpriced weapons without warranty from dubious circles.”
This case is comparable to the school attack in Winnenden, Germany where a 15-year-old boy shot 15 people in a school and then killed himself with the gun of his father who was accused of careless murder.
Turning to the defendant on last time, the judge said that it was “not without tragedy that this process should take place at all” — because the defendant was someone who could do a lot of useful things, that he belongs professionally with people that desperately need his knowledge: “Maybe you could make up for it in the future. It’s unfortunate that you got so outraged, that’s something you have to deal with yourself.”