Germany may call Simone witnesses
By ZOE SATHERLEY
WITNESSES from Lismore, Nimbin and Byron Bay could be asked to go to Germany if authorities there charge Tobias Suckfuell over the death of his girlfriend, Simone Strobel.
Simone's badly decomposed body was found in the Lismore CBD on February 17, six days after she went missing from the Lismore Tourist Caravan Park in Dawson Street.
The German tourist had been staying at the caravan park with Tobias, his sister Katrin Suckfuell and mutual friend Jens Martin, while on a working holiday.
Although Tobias has not been arrested or charged, German police investigating the case say he is a suspect because, under German law, a person is put into suspect status 'when there is sufficient probable cause to start preliminary investigations'.
The prosecutors' office had a certain amount of leeway when making such a decision, they said.
German and Australian authorities are conducting parallel investigations into Simone's death.
Richmond Local Area Commander Supt Bruce Lyons said he thought it was 'healthy' that two police forces on opposite sides of the world were working together in an effort to solve the crime.
"This is a tragic and very serious crime that has impacted on our community and has caused alarm for many people," he said.
"It is a positive step that we can work so closely and cooperatively with German police."
Homicide Squad Det Wayne Hayes, a member of Strike Force HOWEA that was set up to inves- tigate Simone's death, is in Germany having discussions with investigators.
German police told him: "If a German national is charged by the German prosecutor, in Germany, with an offence relevant to Ms Strobel's death, under the German Constitution and criminal law, the trial according to German law will be held in Germany.
"Any relevant Australian witnesses would be called to give evidence in Germany."
Supt Lyons said the German police comments simply reflected what would be 'normal procedure' for any trial arising from any arrest of a German national in their own country.
Det Hayes said the German legal and police systems were very different to ours.
"The system under which the Wuerzburg police operate is that, where an offence is committed against a German national (even in a foreign country), they are obliged to investigate this under German criminal law," Det Hayes said.
"Obviously, the NSW police have the same responsibility to investigate a crime committed within the State of NSW.
"The major difference is leadership/separation of powers between the German and NSW systems.
"In NSW, police do the investigation and the Department of Public Prosecutions prosecutes ? a separation of powers.
"In Germany the state prosecutor is basically the head of both investigation and prosecution stages, hence the reason he commented about the case in the newspaper (naming Tobias as a suspect) and not the police.
"Also, Germany has an inquisitorial system and we have an adversarial system."
Det Hayes said he had been told that if the German investigation did not lead to any person being charged, the investigation would remain open, but there would be no Coroner's Court hearing or equivalent ? it would remain a public prosecutor's investigation.
The public prosecutor can decide that the investigation be closed due to lack of further leads.
Det Hayes said German and NSW police were working in tandem on the investigation and there was a free flow of information between the two investigative teams.