Turkish media ensured access to neo-Nazi trial
Published: 19 Apr 2013 13:49 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Apr 2013 13:49 GMT+02:00
A German court set to start a neo-Nazi murder trial next month said Friday it would restart its media accreditation process to guarantee four seats to journalists from Turkey, where most of the victims hailed from.
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The court will assign those spots using a lottery system and will also have quotas for other foreign media that want to cover what has been dubbed the country's trial of the decade.
The court will try Beate Zschäpe, the only surviving member of the trio that called itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU) and whose two male members allegedly shot dead 10 people between 2000 and 2007 - eight with Turkish roots, one of Greek origin and a German policewoman.
Germany was stunned and shamed when it emerged in 2011 that the nationwide murder spree was not the work of foreign criminal gangs, as long suspected by police and the media, but of far-right radicals who lived in hiding and ridiculed their victims in a video set to a Pink Panther cartoon theme.
The case has stoked further anger because police failed to identify and stop the killers for more than a decade, and because internal security services with paid undercover informants in the neo-Nazi scene later admitted they had shredded files that could have helped the investigation.
The latest controversy flared just weeks before the scheduled start last Wednesday of the trial, when the court published the list of the 50 journalists handed guaranteed seats to cover the case against Zschäpe and four co-accused, with no Turkish media on the list.
The court argued it had simply handed out spots on a first-come, first-served basis, earning it criticism of gross insensitivity.
The Turkish newspaper Sabah complained to Germany's highest court and won, and the Munich court was ordered to guarantee several spots for Turkish media. The start of the trial was delayed until May 6.
Under the revised media rules, the court will now hand four spots to Turkish media, one to a Greek-language journalist, and one to a Farsi publication to represent the heritage of the victims.
Five more spots go to other foreign-based media, five to news agencies and 35 to German domestic media.
Critics have asked why the court cannot simply beam footage of the proceedings to a larger media room via closed-circuit TV, as was done in Norway's 2012 trial of mass killer Anders Behring Breivik. But the court has argued this breaches German law and could be taken as a cause for a retrial.