• Germany's news in English

NSU trial told neo-Nazi woman 'part of kill squad'

The Local · 14 May 2013, 21:07

Published: 14 May 2013 14:47 GMT+02:00
Updated: 14 May 2013 21:07 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Beate Zschäpe, 38, sat silent and motionless as prosecutors accused her of helping plan the hate crimes of the self-styled National Socialist Underground (NSU), covering their tracks, handling finances and providing a safe retreat in their shared home.

When asked to confirm her name, Zschäpe, wearing a grey business blazer, stayed quiet, and her lawyer Wolfgang Heer told the Munich court: "My client will not give any information regarding her person."

Zschäpe was a conspirator in the racially motivated murders in which her two late NSU companions Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos gunned down their arbitrarily chosen victims "assassination-style", said prosecutor Herbert Diemer.

He accused Zschäpe of having been a "founding member of a cell that fully shared national-socialist and racist ideas and whose only aim was to kill people".

The prosecutor detailed each killing in which the gunmen between 2000 and 2007 allegedly used a Ceska pistol to shoot dead eight ethnic Turks and one Greek business owner across the country and also attacked a police patrol, killing a female police officer.

"The defendant Zschäpe, who took part in the planning and preparations, had the duty during the crimes to routinely create covers for the travel movements of Böhnhardt and Mundlos and to provide a safe refuge" and the "veneer of legality", Diemer told the court.

He charged that the NSU trio, including Zschäpe, also shared responsibility for two bomb attacks targeting Cologne migrant neighbourhoods which wounded at least 23 people, and 15 bank robberies they carried out to finance themselves.

Zschäpe was also accused of arson for torching their shared home in eastern Germany in November 2011 after Böhnhardt and Mundlos died in an apparent murder-suicide while hiding in their getaway vehicle, a rented camper van, after a botched bank robbery.

It was only after the men's deaths that authorities – who had long suspected immigrant gangsters were behind the shootings – stumbled upon what they now consider a far-right terrorist organisation.

Four male co-defendants had helped the shooters by variously procuring weapons, giving them documents and renting vehicles, said the prosecutor. They have been identified only as Carsten S., Holger G. and Andre E. as well as Ralf Wohlleben.

Earlier in the day, the hearing was dominated by arguments over the way that the hearing should proceed and where.

A co-plaintiff has also demanded that a Christian cross be taken off the wall of the courtroom, citing the separation of Church and state.

One of Zschäpe's lawyers, Heer, demanded that the trial be halted and moved to a larger room than the chamber that has only 100 seats for the public, half of them reserved for journalists. However, the chief judge rejected the request.

An exasperated Diemer had said that "the creativity of the defence appears to be limitless", after the lawyers for the defendants had also on May 6 accused the chief judge of being biased, sparking an eight-day delay.

The hearing – held under tight security, with almost 400 police stationed around the building – is one of Germany's highest-profile trials in decades.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the killings a "disgrace" for Germany and apologised to the victims' relatives, some of whom police had initially treated as suspects.

The trial is expected to last about two years.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
US tries to block Chinese purchase of Aixtron
Photo: Oliver Berg / DPA / AFP

US President Barack Obama on Friday moved to block a Chinese company's purchase of German semiconductor equipment maker Aixtron by rejecting the inclusion of Aixtron's US business in the deal.

Merkel to chart 2017 election battle at party congress
Photo: Tobias Schwarz / AFP

After Donald Trump's shock victory, Francois Hollande's decision not to seek re-election and populism on the rise, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is next up on the campaign podium to set out her strategy for winning in 2017 polls.

Berlin vs Munich: whose newborn polar bear is cuter?
Berlin's (left) and Munich's (right) newborn bears. Photos: Tierpark Berlin / DPA

Both city zoos welcomed baby polar bears into the world in November, with Berlin zoo its releasing first photos on Friday. But which one is more adorable?

Learn how to speak German like a silver screen icon
Dirty Harry. Photo: DPA

We all agree that there is no other option than to learn irregular German verbs by rote. But when you want a bit of downtime, why not learn from your big screen heroes?

Stolen Dachau 'Work will set you free' gate found: police
The entrance to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Photo: DPA

An iron gate from the former Nazi concentration camp in Germany's Dachau with the slogan "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work will set you free") has been found two years after it was stolen, police said Friday.

Mystery flight path artist draws new message in sky
Photo: DPA

A pilot who likes to draw patterns in the sky using his flight path has returned with his greatest artwork yet.

Berlin 'abusing power' to stop Snowden coming to Germany
Edward Snowden. Photo: DPA

Opposition parties have accused the coalition government of overstepping its authority in its attempt to block American whistleblower Edward Snowden's trip to Germany.

Germany gains record number of Michelin-star restaurants
Head of the Michelin Guide, Michael Ellis (centre) with Michelin-star chefs at a presentation in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

Germany had a slew of newly minted Michelin-star restaurants this year, and its top-rated establishments held onto their prestigious three stars.

At last: Germany passes major disabled rights reform
People in wheelchairs watch as the German parliament deliberates on the new disability rights reform. Photo: DPA.

For years people with disabilities in Germany have called for legislation to provide them with better benefits and opportunities in life and work. On Thursday the German parliament passed such a reform - but is it enough?

How new German rules are holding refugee families apart
Children wait for food in Jarablus, Syria. Photo: DPA

Germany, trying to staunch the flow of Syrian refugees, has placed high hurdles for them to be reunited with their families, creating a Kafkaesque nightmare in the courts.

10 German Christmas cookies you have to bake this winter
Sponsored Article
The key to launching your international career
Our 10-step guide for doing Christmas just like a German
Here's why so many Germans vote for the far-right AfD
7 events in Germany that'll make December unforgettable
7 frosty German sayings to make you a winter wordsmith
This is how unequal German society has become
Six things you should know about the Lufthansa strike
9 ways living in Germany will make you a better person
These 10 German Christmas markets cannot be missed
8 German words that unlock amazing secrets in English
10 German words with simply hilarious literal translations
7 things Germans do that make foreigners feel awkward
Why Donald Trump's grandad was booted out of Germany
This is what is really inside your Döner kebab
Rejoice! Christmas markets start opening across Germany
These German universities are best at landing you a job
Why Heidelberg is Germany's most inspiring city
This soppy German Christmas ad will bring you to tears
Here's where Germans speak the best (and worst) English
10 German books you have to read before you die
U-Bahn train found filled with autumn foliage in Berlin
Seven German words that unlock amazing secrets about English
Germany's ten most beautiful towns you've never visited
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd