Cyberbunker Trial-Chronology

In the Cyberbunker trial, eight defendants have to answer to the Trier Regional Court. In our trial diary, we provide an overview of all the important events.

+++ October 19 – Indictment is read out +++

+++ October 22 – Some of the defendants make statements about their curriculum vitae +++
On the second day of the trial, some of the defendants answered questions about their curriculum vitae.

Among them was the so-called manager of the cyber bunker. According to the prosecution, he is supposed to have distributed the tasks on site. The 50-year-old Dutchman testified that as a child he had been sexually abused in the toilet by the daughter of his family’s cleaning lady. He also said that he had suffered from anxiety for years because he had been beaten up several years ago. He said he first met some of his co-defendants at a coffee shop in the years between 2012 and 2014.

The main defendant, a 60-year-old Dutch man, did not give a statement about his life. The next day of trial is scheduled for next Monday.

+++ October 26 – “Manager” of the darknet data center testifies +++
In the trial about the cyber bunker in Traben-Trarbach, one of the defendants has testified for the first time before the Trier Regional Court. It concerns the manager of the Darknet computer center. The 50-year-old Dutchman Michiel R. was the number 2 in the cyber bunker, so to speak, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Michiel R. had explained on Monday how he got to know the main defendant Herrman X. as the big boss in the bunker and was fascinated by his ideas as well as the computer center. The manager thus contradicted Herrman X.’s lawyers, who had downplayed his role in the press on the first day of the trial.

Michiel R., however, did not portray X. as a criminal and has so far not confirmed the accusations made that the data center was only operated so that criminals could use it to distribute drugs, counterfeit money or child pornography.

+++ October 29 – “Manager” of the darknet data center speaks of contact with criminals in the cyber bunker +++
In the Traben-Trarbach cyber bunker trial, the co-defendant manager testified today that a former Irish drug gangster as well as computer specialists went in and out of the facility. The manager is the first and so far only one of the eight defendants to speak out about what happened at the darknet computer center.

+++ November 2 – Bunker manager testifies: “No evidence of child pornography” +++
The manager responsible for complaints at the cyber bunker in Traben-Trarbach claims to have never heard of any indications of child pornography or drug trafficking with the help of the data center’s servers. “There were never any complaints in this direction,” the 51-year-old told the Trier Regional Court on Monday. The cyber bunker, which investigators believe housed important marketplaces of the criminal “darknet,” had been stormed by police officers in September 2019. Complaints had mostly been about malware as well as the tapping of personal data and copyright infringements.

+++ November 5 – trial interrupted due to Corona +++
The “bunker trial” has been canceled for Thursday, November 5 and next Monday as well as Thursday. According to the district court, the reason for this is that one of the two supplementary jurors had direct contact with someone infected with Corona. From Thursday next week, however, the trial is to be resumed as normal. Then the so-called manager of the cyber bunker in Traben-Trarbach is to continue his testimony.

+++ November 16 – After interruption: Manager continues testimony +++
In the trial about the cyber bunker in Traben-Trarbach, the so-called manager of the bunker continued his testimony today. On the sixth day of the trial, he continues to affirm that he knew nothing about illegal business being conducted via the servers. Actually, it had been expected that he would finish testifying today. The trial is to be continued next Thursday.

+++ November 19 – Manager finishes testimony +++
In the trial about the cyber bunker in Traben-Trarbach, the so-called manager finished his testimony today. He has denied until the end to have known that drugs, child pornography or weapons were traded via the servers in the bunker.

The testimony of the so-called manager lasted six full days. According to the prosecution, he is considered one of the most important suspects in the trial. In his testimony, however, he remained very vague and often lost himself in technical details about the servers.

So far, the manager is the only one of the eight defendants who has commented on the allegations of the crime. In response, however, the lawyers of the alleged head of the gang, a 60-year-old Dutchman, have already announced that their client will also make a statement. When, they still left open.

+++ December 10 – Bundeswehr soldier who alerted police testifies +++
In the trial about the Traben-Trarbach cyber bunker, a former Bundeswehr soldier testified before the Trier Regional Court on Thursday morning. The witness had applied for a job ad of the darknet computer center and later called in the police.

During the job interview, he had spoken with the main defendant Herman X. and his manager R.. The data center had appeared unprofessional and somewhat chaotic to him because, for example, there had been no protection against power failures and data loss. However, the customers had been willing to pay more than usual.

+++ December 17 – Main defendant does not want to testify after all
In the cyber bunker trial before the Trier Regional Court, the main defendant Herman X. will continue to remain silent after all, according to his lawyer. After detailed consultation, his client has changed his mind.

The procedure runs now already for two months and since then all eyes are directed on Herman X., without which it would have testified. So far, only the so-called manager, who described X as the boss in the cyber bunker, has talked. Most recently, the lawyers of the main defendant X had repeatedly held out the prospect of a statement on the person and possibly on the matter. Now the backdown. Perhaps Herman X. will make a statement at some point in the further course, it was said today.

+++ January 4 – Investigators begin testifying +++
In the trial about the so-called cyber bunker in Traben-Trarbach, several police officers testified today about the course of the investigation. According to an investigator, it was possible to find out on the basis of surveillance data that the servers through which the illegal transactions were allegedly carried out were located in Traben-Trabach.

Fraud websites were also found running on the servers, the witness told the court. In the so-called cyber bunker trial, eight defendants are accused of having founded a criminal organization. They are said to have operated a computer center in a former Bundeswehr bunker near Traben-Trarbach, through which criminals are said to have traded weapons, drugs and child pornography on the darknet. The trial is expected to last until the end of the year. Seven of the eight defendants are currently in custody.

+++ January 7 – video of the search in the bunker is shown +++
The court shows a film made by police officers during the search of the cyber bunker in Traben-Trarbach.

+++ January 14 – Investigators testify to searched rooms and apartments +++
In the so-called cyber bunker trial at the Trier Regional Court today, police officers and investigators again testified as witnesses. It was about results of the search of private apartments and an apartment in the Traben-Trarbach data center.

The police seized hard disks, computers and cell phones there. The next day of the trial, next Monday, will be devoted to the evaluation of this evidence.

+++ January 18 – Seized data still not fully evaluated +++
Police officers who were involved in the searches in the bunker and the evaluation of the seized servers testified again today before the Trier Regional Court. According to the testimony of an investigator, files were found on the servers that indicate that, among other things, drugs were trafficked and computer fraud and copyright infringement were committed via the computers.

The evaluation of the more than 400 servers has been ongoing for more than a year, but is still not complete because of the large amount of data, one of the police officers said. According to the investigators, however, so far only one legal website could be found on the servers. This was the site of a badminton club.

The data quantity seized with the access covers two million Gigabyte: On CD burned that would be 2.6 million CDs, which would result in stacked on top of each other a height of 8,000 meters, had explained Kriminalhauptkommissar Patrick Fata of the national criminal investigation department (LKA) Rhineland-Palatinate.

+++ January 21 – Operators of the Cyberbunker were apparently alerted to child pornography content +++
The taking of evidence in the so-called cyberbunker trial is currently a real test of patience for the First Grand Juvenile Chamber of the Trier Regional Court.

The investigators who have been summoned are often only able to say something about a small part of the investigation. The policemen and policewomen apparently had a meticulously defined area of responsibility. Some were responsible for searching the rooms, others for searching the vehicles, and still others for searching the computers and evaluating the devices and the files found on them.

Judge Guenther Koehler tried to fight his way through the flood of information by asking the investigators about their notes in the investigation reports.

On Thursday, investigators were again summoned to examine parts of the mails and the chat histories.
According to the report, the operators of the data center had been made aware several times by the Association of the Internet Industry (eco) that links to child pornography were stored on some of the Internet pages located on the servers. The eight defendants have so far denied having known that drugs, weapons or child pornography were being traded on the servers in the data center.

The Koblenz prosecutor general’s office, on the other hand, accuses them of deliberately providing a forum for criminals. According to the Koblenz Prosecutor General’s Office, this is also new legal territory. For the first time, not only the operators of illegal platforms are to be arrested, but also those who provide the technical infrastructure.

+++ February 1 – Expert explains how legal providers deal with criminal customers and illegal content +++
In the trial about the Traben-Trarbach cyber bunker, an expert witness testified today before the Trier Regional Court. She spoke about how legal providers of Internet services normally deal with criminal customers and illegal content.

Problems with customers are not uncommon, explained the expert, who works for an industry company. This is part of everyday life when renting out Internet servers, she said. Drug deals and child pornography also occur.

A separate department deals with hundreds of tips every day. If necessary, the websites are blocked.

According to the indictment, things were different in the cyber bunker. The eight defendants are accused of operating a computer center so that their customers could distribute drugs, counterfeit money and child pornography.

If warnings were received, the defendants allegedly offered to conceal the customers’ activities.

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