German court faces fresh trouble over press seats

The court where the NSU neo-Nazi terror trial faces fresh controversy over media accreditation after several major German newspapers failed to obtain seats in a lottery of press passes.

German court faces fresh trouble over press seats

World Bulletin/News Desk

A Munich court caused fresh uproar on Monday when a lottery it used to assign press seats to the trial of a suspected neo-Nazi accused of a series of racist murders left major German dailies and international news agencies without a place in court.

The trial is one of Germany's most anticipated in decades and the murders by the far-right cell, which went undetected for more than a decade, have exposed deep intelligence lapses and a failure to recognise the threat of neo-Nazis.

The court's decisions over how to allow the media to cover the case have been criticised from the outset by victims' lawyers, politicians and rights groups as a fiasco, and Monday's lottery brought yet more criticism and legal threats.

The major German dailies Die Welt and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which are without a place, said they would consider legal action. Newspaper Taz said it was looking at a legal appeal for the court proceedings to be transmitted by video.

Monday's lottery, which saw 324 applications for the seats drawn from 10 different lots, came after the court's first allocation in March on a first-come first-served basis saw no Turkish journalists granted a guaranteed seat, even though eight of the victims were ethnic Turks.

This prompted a successful complaint by Turkish newspaper Sabah to Germany's Constitutional Court, which ruled the Munich court had to make seats available to Turkish and Greek media.

The announcement on Monday of the 50 media representatives, which include women's lifestyle magazine Brigitte, advertising journal Hallo Muenchen and a series of local newspapers and radio stations provoked jeers and howls of disbelief.

The court room is small and no video transmission of proceedings is allowed.

International news agencies Reuters, the Associated Press and Agence France Presse are also without guaranteed access.

"The allocation of media places stands in stark contrast to the immense national and international significance of this trial," the German Journalists' Association said in a statement.

"The Munich court is out of its depth in managing the press relations of this trial."

Judges in Munich had already delayed the trial by more than a fortnight to set up the lottery system.

A previously unknown neo-Nazi cell, the National Socialist Underground (NSU), carried out the murders of the eight Turks, a Greek and a policewoman over a period from 2000 to 2007.

The focus of the trial will be a 38-year-old woman, Beate Zschaepe, accused of being an NSU founder member and of involvement in the murders. Four suspected male accomplices are also on trial.

Last Mod: 30 Nisan 2013, 09:38
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