Defense attorney not surprised by German investigation


MISSOULA, Mont. - German prosecutors announced they plan to ask the Missoula County Attorney's Office for documents in the case against Markus Kaarma.

Kaarma pleaded not guilty to a deliberate homicide charge in Missoula County District Court last week, for the death of German exchange student Diren Dede. Kaarma claims he was scared for his life when 17-year-old Dede entered into his garage early one morning last month.

Prosecutors say Dede was likely looking for alcohol, and that Kaarma was baiting teens, leaving his garage open after he reported one prior burglary.

While the case in Missoula County District Court is ongoing, German prosecutors are in the midst of their own investigation.

In an email from the Public Prosecutor's Office of Hamburg, Germany, the press officer confirmed that the office has opened its own investigation. It's essentially required any time a German citizen dies in another country.

In an interview Wednesday, Markus Kaarma's lead defense attorney, Paul Ryan, said he wasn't surprised.

"I think the investigation portion of this is what a lot of countries do, including the United States, if a citizen is somehow harmed in another country by some criminal activity or allegations of criminal activity."

The law in Germany makes it clear. There's a special section about offenses committed abroad. It reads: ‘German criminal law shall apply to offenses abroad against a German if the act is a criminal offense.'

In this case, Dede was shot and killed abroad, so now German prosecutors are working to get information from the Missoula County Attorney's Office.

It's part of a standard process through a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT); it's an agreement between the U.S. and other countries to share evidence.

The German investigation is also dependant on the outcome of Kaarma's trial in Missoula.

Ryan said no matter the outcome he doesn't think Germany will prosecute.

"The United States laws are handling this. The case will be litigated, tried in the United States, and the outcome will come from the United States jury. And that would be, in our opinion, the end of this case."

The U.S. doesn't have to extradite a citizen who has gone to trial and been acquitted or sentenced for the crime.

"I would just be shocked if the United States government were to extradite somebody, especially if he's acquitted under United States laws."

Officials at the Public Prosecutor's Office in Germany said it's too soon to say what will happen with their investigation. They're still waiting for information from Missoula.

Missoula Deputy County Attorney Andrew Paul said his office has not yet seen a request for court documents.