Neo-Nazi murder cult verdict due
Five people have been on trial since March 2013 for participating in or supporting the crimes of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), the neo-Nazi group suspected of murdering migrants.
The case has exposed serious shortcomings in Germany’s monitoring of neo-Nazis.
Key defendant, Beate Zschäpe (pictured), 43, went on the run with Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt in 1998. The two men were found dead after an apparent murder-suicide in 2011, making her the only surviving core member of the NSU cell.
The men’s bodies were found in a burnt-out caravan.
Prosecutors accuse her of complicity in the killing of nine men, eight of Turkish origin and one Greek citizen, and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007. Zschäpe is also accused of participation in two bomb attacks and numerous bank robberies, helping found a terrorist organisation and of attempted murder when she set fire to the group’s apartment when its location was compromised.
Police found evidence of neo-Nazi activities in the charred flat, including a carefully made DVD about their murders.
Zschäpe has denied any involvement in murder but admitted the other accusations.
Also in the dock and facing up to 12 years in jail are four men accused of having supported the NSU by providing weapons, cash, identity papers and logistical aid during their years in hiding.
They are Ralf Wohlleben, a former member of the far-right NPD, and men known as Andre E, an unrepentant neo-Nazi, and Holger G and Carsten S, who are former supporters turned witnesses.
The killers lived with Zschäpe in Zwickau, eastern Germany, and formed the NSU cell to destabilise the country through racist terror, the prosecutors claimed.
There is no evidence that Zschäpe was present when any of the killings, bombings or robberies occurred. But prosecutors say her support for the men during their 14 years underground makes her culpable for all of the crimes.
Zschaepe’s defence describe her as a naive woman controlled by two violent men.
After remaining silent for most of the trial, Zschaepe said last week that she had rejected “elements of nationalist ideology” she once believed in and expressed sorrow for the bereaved families. She asked the jury not to convict her “for something that I neither wanted nor did”.
When the trial began in 2013, Zschäpe would not even give her name but in 2015 she finally spoke, describing her relationships with Mundlos and Böhnhardt.
Zschäpe faces life in prison.
Beate Zschäpe. Picture credit: YouTube