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Court delays neo-Nazi murder trial for press

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13:32 CEST+02:00
The start of the most high-profile neo-Nazi murder trial in post-war Germany has been delayed from this week until early May, a court in the southern city of Munich said Monday.

Proceedings were to begin Wednesday against a woman accused of being part of a far-right killer cell called blamed for 10 murders, but Germany's top court ordered the Munich judges last week to expand foreign media access to the trial.

"This is no longer possible to organize in the time remaining until the start of main deliberations on April 17th, 2013," the court said in a statement.

The trial of Beate Zschäpe, sole surviving member of the so-called National Socialist Underground (NSU), is now to begin on May 6.

The NSU is accused of killing eight ethnic Turks, a Greek man and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007. Alongside Zschäpe, four alleged accomplices also face charges.

Germany's highest court on Friday upheld a complaint by a Turkish newspaper over media access to the trial in a controversy that had strained ties with Ankara.

The presiding judge in the case had assigned guaranteed seats at the hearings on a first-come, first-served basis, resulting in German reporters taking nearly all 50 of the reserved places and most international media outlets having no reliable access to the courtroom.

"There will be a new [media] accreditation process," said court spokeswoman Andrea Titz on Monday. "I can't precisely say what the judges have in mind."

After a lawsuit by Turkish newspaper Sabah, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the Munich tribunal must provide "an appropriate number of seats to representatives of foreign media with a particular connection to the victims".

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The federal judges suggested reserving three seats for foreign media or restarting the press accreditation process from scratch.

The Turkish government, victims' representatives, German leaders and journalists had hit out at a lack of "sensitivity" by the Munich court in light of the massive public interest in the case.

AFP/DPA/The Local/mry

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