Colleagues shun lawyer for defending neo-Nazi
The lawyer defending a woman accused of being in a neo-Nazi terror cell thought to have murdered ten people, is leaving her firm in Berlin after being ostracized by her colleagues for taking on the case.
Anya Sturm, one of three lawyers representing Beate Zschäpe, is leaving her office in Berlin and moving with her family to Cologne after suffering abuse from her co-workers who claimed she was ruining the reputation of the firm.
Sturm told the Tagespiegel daily on Monday that she was "disappointed" with the reaction she had got from her colleagues. One staff-member even likened her defence of Zschäpe to the firm issuing a "mandate to kill."
Sturm recently suffered a major defeat when she ran as a candidate to sit on the board of the left-leaning association of defence lawyers in Berlin. The website of Der Spiegel news magazine reported that members of the board had threatened to quit if Sturm were to become a member of the board.
Sturm is now joining the firm of fellow Zschäpe defence lawyer Wolfgang Heer in Cologne. The third member of the defence team is Wolfgang Stahl who is based in Koblenz in western Germany.
Heer was quoted by the online edition of Der Spiegel as saying he was looking forward to working with Sturm on other cases which had nothing to do with the NSU in the future. "I see good prospects for both of us," he said.
Despite encountering widespread hostility, Sturm is not without her defenders. Christian Ströbele, a Green Party politician and lawyer, said nobody should be criticized for agreeing to defend a person. "When it comes to crime, defence is a duty according to the law. Every person accused must have a lawyer," he told Der Spiegel website.
One experienced defence lawyer, referring to the three lawyers who agreed to defend Zschäpe, predicted that they would "go through hell."