It took six and a half years before the Thalidomide case went to trial in West-Germany. The main hearings began on May 27, 1968 in Alsdorf (near Aachen) in a casino, inside a former mine. The Aachen court decided to move proceedings there since Aachen itself didn’t have a big enough room to accommodate everyone participating. When the trial started the media compared it to Nuremberg. Everyone expected the court case to be very intense and emotional.
From the original nine defendants only seven Grünenthal employees stood trial. Company owner Hermann Wirtz and Dr. Heinz Kelling, the former head of the scientific department, were both declared “unfit to stand trial” because of health issues.
The indictment accused the defendants of involuntary manslaughter, physical injury resulting from negligence, malicious injury and offences against the drug law. 20 defence lawyers were faced with three prosecutors. Seven additional lawyers were representing the joint plaintiffs.
Sources: Chronology of events provided by Beate Kirk, in: Der Conterganfall: eine unvermeidbare Arzneimittelkatastrophe? Dissertation. Greifswald 1998.