The former parliamentary group leader of the Greens in Hamburg's Mitte district, Michael Osterburg, has to answer in court from April. The district court of the Hanseatic city opened the main proceedings for commercial infidelity in 121 cases with a decision of February 16, partly in conjunction with fraud and forgery, as a spokesman for the chamber said when asked by WELT.
The Hamburg public prosecutor's office had previously investigated the former partner of Hamburg's Senator for Justice Anna Gallina (Greens) for two and a half years and brought charges against Osterburg in October last year. The case will be heard before the Greater Criminal Chamber of the Regional Court from April 19th for nine days until May 17th.
Between 2015 and 2019, Osterburg is said to have used group funds on a large scale for private restaurant visits and childcare that was not created. In addition, the former politician is said to have withdrawn cash and purchased various items of daily use. He may also have had travel and rental car costs reimbursed by the Greens in Mitte for no reason.
According to the court, the total is almost 33,000 euros. Since the 55-year-old accused has not yet commented on the allegations, the public prosecutor's office alone has already named 162 witnesses and 347 documents as evidence in their indictment. The presumption of innocence also applies in the Osterburg case until the final conclusion of the proceedings.
The investigations aroused public interest primarily because the once influential politician was in a relationship with today's Justice Senator Gallina at the time of the alleged embezzlement. The former couple have one child together. Gallina was questioned during the course of the investigation by the public prosecutor's office, which reports to her. If the allegations prove true in court, Osterburg faces a prison sentence of between six months and ten years if he finds particularly serious breaches of trust – including commercial breaches of trust.
And for the already controversial Gallina, the year could be the hardest of her career so far, as she will probably have to take one of the 162 names on the witness stand. Although the allegations have so far only been directed against Osterburg, the senator would have to provide information as a witness as to whether she could have noticed anything about the use of the funds in the private sector or even benefited from them. Gallina has always denied this.
So criticism of Gallina could continue to grow in the coming months. The graduate political scientist took up the position of Hamburg Senator for Justice in 2020 and immediately triggered great resentment in her department with her appointment. Because among her 23 predecessors since 1945, Gallina is only the second non-lawyer to lead the judicial authority.
Most recently, the 39-year-old was caught in the crossfire in connection with Brokstedt's deadly knife attack. The stateless Palestinian Ibrahim A. is said to have stabbed other passengers with a knife on the regional train from Kiel to Hamburg on January 25. Two young people died and five others were seriously injured. Six days earlier, the man had been released from one-year custody at Hamburg's Billwerder correctional facility, where he had also been imprisoned for a violent crime involving a knife.
Later it became known that he had compared himself to the Islamist assassin Anis Amri. Gallina and Hamburg's Senator for the Interior, Andy Grote (SPD), then announced that prisoners on remand who had been imprisoned for violent crimes and who showed aggressive behavioral problems or were drug addicts would be looked at immediately.