German woman covered for neo-Nazi murder gang

Tuesday's session in the National Socialist Underground trial saw legal wrangling, as a 38-year-old German woman charged with complicity in a series of racist murders

German woman covered for neo-Nazi murder gang

World Bulletin/News Desk

The second hearing of a neo-Nazi terrorist group accused of racially-motivated murders in Germany began Tuesday with legal wrangling at a court in Munich.

Lawyers of Beate Zschaepe, the main suspect who is charged with killing ten people, including eight Turks, between 2000 and 2007, demanded that the hearings be moved to a larger courtroom in the high-profile proceedings. The judges rejected the request.

The prosecution read only a 35-page shortened version of the indictment instead of an original 488-page one.

A 38-year-old German woman charged with complicity in a series of racist murders played a key role in creating an air of normality around her neo-Nazi cell, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.

The case of Beate Zschaepe and the National Socialist Underground (NSU), the group blamed for the murders of eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman, has scandalised Germany and exposed an institutional blind spot for far-right extremism.

Zschaepe was busy with her notebook at the beginning of the reading of the indictment that charges her of complicity in all the murders and with being part of a terrorist organization.

The second day of the eagerly awaited trial was mostly taken up with legal arguments and a reading of the charges against Zschaepe, whose two presumed male accomplices, Uwe Boehnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, both committed suicide in 2011.

"The NSU members considered themselves a murder squad, committing killings with racist and anti-state motives," federal public prosecutor Herbert Diemer said.

"Zschaepe had the critical role of creating an air of normality and legality for the terrorist group. This included giving innocuous reasons to neighbours and friends to explain the long absences of Boehnhardt and Mundlos, who were seeking possible targets and planning the deeds."

Zschaepe is charged with complicity in the shooting of the 10 victims in towns across Germany between 2000 and 2007, as well as two bombings in immigrant areas of Cologne and 15 bank robberies.

The "National Socialist Underground" (or NSU) trial, the highest-profile criminal case in Germany in the past decades, also brings into question modus operandi of Germany's domestic intelligence agencies, fueling doubts that German authorities had been "reluctant" to clamp down on the NSU when it staged its first attack, a bombing in 1998 in the city of Jena.

A string of revelations about the NSU and its ties since November 2011, when the cell's existence first came to light after Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Bonhardt -- two of the three known members of the NSU who allegedly killed themselves following a failed bank robbery -- have sent shock waves through German politics, security bureaucracy and the Turkish community, and expectations have been raised that the trial will shed light on suspicions involving German state institutions. 

The German parliament is conducting an inquiry into how the security services failed for so long to link the murders or share information, despite having informers close to the group.

Hearings are scheduled into early 2014, with the trio's relatives due to testify among hundreds of witnesses.

Last Mod: 15 Mayıs 2013, 09:45
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