22nd Mar 2018

German neo-Nazi trial to start

  • Protesters in Munich showing solidarity with the ten victims of the Neonazi cell (Photo: Die Linke)

A landmark trial against the only survivor of a neo-Nazi cell which killed 10 people and went undetected for years is starting in Munich on Monday (6 May).

Thirty-eight year old Beate Zschaepe is accused of being complicit in racially-motivated murders. Eight people of Turkish origin, one Greek and one policewoman were killed by the so-called National Socialist Underground (NSU) between 2000 and 2007.

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If convicted, Zschaepe could be imprisoned for life. Her lawyers deny the murder charges, and she herself has kept silent.

Zschaepe is also accused of participating in 15 armed robberies, arson and attempted murder in two bomb attacks.

The NSU cell - consisting of Zschaepe and two men who shot themselves after a failed bank robbery two years ago - went undetected for years by the police and intelligence services. It is considered Germany's biggest failure to deal with right-wing extremism since the end of the Second World War.

Uwe Mundlos, who was 38 at the time of his death and Uwe Boenhardt, 34, had been under surveillance by intelligence services for links with the neo-Nazi scene, but none of the police investigations into the nine immigrant murders and the police killing were traced to them.

The trial itself - which should have started last month - was delayed when a Turkish newspaper challenged the Munich court at the constitutional court for having granted access only to German media to cover the event.

A new selection procedure was subsequently started, which included Turkish and Greek media.

But the court got into trouble again for not having checked the background of Al Jazeera Istanbul, which won one spot allotted to Turkish media without actually broadcasting in Turkish.

A live video feed from the court was excluded as an option to allow more media to follow the trial.

The trial is expected to last 80 days, as there are also 77 parallel complaints, including on the role of intelligence officers who knew about Mundlos and Boenhardt and allegedly instigated them to commit the murders.

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