The 41-year-old musician Gil Ofarim is in the dock on charges of, among other things, defamation and false suspicions. At the beginning of October 2021, the musician made serious allegations of anti-Semitism against a manager of the Leipzig hotel The Westin in an Instagram video. However, after extensive investigations by the public prosecutor’s office, charges were brought against Ofarim.
FOCUS online reported on the ticker for the first two days and continues to follow the trial live from the courtroom. A further eight dates are scheduled for the process:
- Tuesday, November 14, 2023, 9:00 a.m
- Wednesday, November 15, 2023, 9:00 a.m
- Thursday, November 16, 2023, 9:00 a.m
- Tuesday, November 28, 2023, 9:00 a.m
- Wednesday, November 29, 2023, 9:00 a.m
- Thursday, November 30, 2023, 9:00 a.m
- Wednesday, December 6, 2023, 9:00 a.m
- Thursday, December 7, 2023, 9:00 a.m
Also read: The Ofarim trial in the FOCUS online news ticker.
Libel trial against Gil Ofarim – this is how it continues this week
This is how the trial against Gil Ofarim continues this week:
- Tuesday, November 14th: Nine witnesses are heard. These include eight eyewitnesses in the hotel and one person who is said to have driven Gil Ofarim to the hotel.
- Wednesday, November 15th: Showtime in the courtroom: The video from the hotel lobby is shown. Theoretically, only one witness is planned to speak to the video recording in the hotel. An expert may also come along to evaluate the video. It is up to the court whether and to what extent the surveillance video is analyzed. If not all witnesses can be heard on Tuesday, there would still be room for these hearings on Wednesday.
- Thursday November 16th: Seven witnesses are heard. Four of them should be able to say something about the incident. Three others are people who checked in with Ofarim during the evening at the Hotel Steigenberger, where Ofarim went after being kicked out of the Westin.
Will Gil Ofarim also testify himself?
Gil Ofarim’s statement was actually announced on the first day of the trial. However, due to a lack of access to the files, this was postponed and has not yet been rescheduled.
In principle, Ofarim himself can comment on the matter at any time. So far, his defense has said that he does not want to comment on it. But that can still change.
Reading tip: When a witness opens her WhatsApp, everything in the Ofarim trial becomes very quiet
How did the first two days of the trial go?
Wednesday, November 8th (Day 2): Hotel manager denies Star of David accusation and blames Ofarim
In the trial against Gil Ofarim, the prosecution’s most important witness incriminated the Jewish musician. When asked by the court on Wednesday before the regional court in Leipzig, the hotel manager stated that neither Ofarim’s Star of David nor anti-Semitic statements had played a role in the dispute over checking into the hotel. The public prosecutor’s office accuses the artist of, among other things, false suspicion and defamation.
At the beginning of October 2021, the musician made serious allegations of anti-Semitism against the manager of the Leipzig hotel in an Instagram video. Ofarim was told to take off his Star of David and only then would he be allowed to check in, the singer accused. However, after extensive investigations by the public prosecutor’s office, charges were brought against Ofarim himself. The case against the hotel manager was dropped.
During the discussion with Ofarim, he only noticed jewelry on his hand and nowhere else, the 35-year-old witness said on Wednesday. He also didn’t hear any calls from other guests or employees. The 35-year-old is still receiving psychological treatment following the allegations and left the hotel of his own accord this September, but is still working in the industry. He also appears as a co-plaintiff in the proceedings.
Defense wants to swear in hotel manager for lying – and fails miserably
The defense waived questions and requested that the witness be sworn in. From their point of view, the manager had deliberately lied on some points. The court rejected the application. “The chamber has no concrete conviction that the witness has not yet told the full truth,” said the presiding judge, Andreas Stadler. The statement also does not have a sole decisive meaning. “Other people also made perceptions about the conversation.”
On Wednesday, the then employee at the hotel’s reception stated that there had been no anti-Semitic comments during check-in. When it was Ofarim’s turn at the counter, he was upset because of an alleged preference for other guests and complained with wild gesticulations. As soon as he was in the room, he is said to have said, “it goes viral about what a terrible place” the hotel is. The manager then exercised his house rules and expelled the guest from the hotel. “I would have done the same thing.”
After Ofarim’s video was published, there was “chaos” in front of and in the hotel, the 25-year-old explained. Numerous media representatives were in the lobby that evening, and several hundred demonstrators gathered in front of the hotel to demonstrate against anti-Semitism. “In the following weeks there were massive threats against the hotel and security measures were also tightened.”
Also interesting: “It was never gone”: In court, hotel manager describes two-year odyssey after Ofarim evening
Tuesday, November 7th (Day 1): Ofarim takes notes diligently and remains silent about accusations
Gil Ofarim entered the packed courtroom on Tuesday morning accompanied by his four lawyers. Numerous people still had to wait in front of the door. The singer and actor from Munich wore a heavy leather jacket and the Star of David hung on a silver chain over his shirt.
During the reading of the charges he appeared highly concentrated, nodding as the prosecutor played back the content of his videos. The musician originally wanted to comment on the public prosecutor’s allegations at the start of the trial, but then left the field to his lawyers. The presumption of innocence applies until a final conviction is made.
This is a case of statement against statement, said attorney Alexander Stevens. If only a single discriminatory word was used during the incident two years ago, his client should be acquitted, the lawyer emphasized in his statement after the indictment was read out.
Ofarim’s descriptions do not correspond to the truth, said public prosecutor Andreas Ricken. The defendant wrongly portrayed the manager as an anti-Semite. Ofarim had claimed that the employee asked him to take off his Star of David necklace so that he could check in. According to the prosecution, the Star of David could not be seen under the musician’s shirt when he checked in. Ofarim only made the star visible when he shot the video himself. Ofarim himself remained silent at the start of the trial.
Ofarim is said to have called the hotel a “shit shop” and was therefore thrown out
The hotel manager also commented on the incident on Tuesday. According to the 35-year-old man, there was a delay at the reception that evening in October 2021 due to technical problems. Ofarim then called the hotel a “shit shop” because other guests were allegedly given preferential treatment, the employee said. He asked Ofarim to apologize and refused to allow him to check in. After the argument, Ofarim left the reception and made a phone call.
The manager said he felt threatened by Ofarim’s appearance. He also saw the reputation of his house in danger. The musician complained with wild gesticulations because other guests were allegedly given preferential treatment. In his statement he initially did not address the Star of David.
In addition, the affected hotel manager described the consequences of the video as “dramatic”. It wasn’t until the next day that he found out about the allegations. “I stood in the office and was horrified by what was being said,” said the 35-year-old. Colleagues were crying, the pressure had become enormous. In the weeks that followed, he went into hiding and did not tell anyone where he was for security reasons. The hotel manager emphasized that he is still receiving psychological care today.