Reemtsma kidnapper Thomas Drach soon in court

Next Tuesday (February 1st) one of the nationwide most spectacular trials of the year begins in Cologne: The former Reemtsma kidnapper Thomas Drach is before the regional court because of a series of money messenger raids. The charges include attempted murder and particularly aggravated robbery. An alleged accomplice is also charged.

In 1996, Drach, who was born in Erftstadt near Cologne, kidnapped the heir to the Hamburg Reemtsma tobacco dynasty, Jan Philipp Reemtsma. After 33 days he released his victim – for a ransom of 15 million German marks and 12.5 million Swiss francs. The Hamburg district court sentenced him to fourteen and a half years in prison for the crime. After his release in 2013, Drach went abroad.

In 2018 and 2019, the police in Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia were occupied with a series of similar raids on money transporters. The background was initially in the dark, there was even speculation that former RAF terrorists were involved.

Video recordings of a witness to a robbery at Cologne/Bonn Airport finally put the investigators on the crucial track. It led to Amsterdam – to Thomas Drach. He was arrested there in February 2021 and has been in custody in Cologne since his extradition.

The public prosecutor accuses the 61-year-old of four robberies in Cologne, Frankfurt am Main and Limburg. In all cases he is said to have robbed money messengers, partly with the help of the Dutch co-accused, and thus stole a total of more than 230,000 euros. The accused are said to have fled in a stolen car, which they set on fire before continuing their escape in another vehicle.

In two cases – in Frankfurt and at Cologne/Bonn Airport – Drach is said to have shot a security guard. Both men suffered serious injuries. For the crime in Frankfurt, the charge is attempted murder. The act in Cologne is charged with dangerous bodily harm. However, the court has already pointed out that a legal assessment as attempted murder is also possible here. If convicted, he faces preventive detention.

Dragon denies the allegations. “Mr. Drach is seeking an acquittal because the allegations are completely unfounded,” said his defense attorney Andreas Kerkhof on request. “There is no solid evidence that my client committed the alleged robberies. The indictments are all based on incomplete circumstantial evidence and pure speculation.”

Strict safety precautions apply to the process. Around the courthouse, which is located on a main traffic axis, roads are temporarily closed and no stopping zones are set up. The high-profile defendant may be taken to court by helicopter.

The trial before the 21st Grand Trial Chamber will be led by the experienced judge Michael Bern. 53 days of negotiations are planned by the end of September.