The head of the German parliament's committee investigating the 2013 murders committed by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground (NSU) said some questions remain unanswered in the case, in which the sole surviving member of the gang has been on trial since 2013. Clemens Binninger, a lawmaker from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they doubt the NSU, which is accused of killing 10 people including eight Turks in Germany, was comprised of only three people.
The NSU was reportedly formed by Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Böhnhardt and Beate Zschaepe. Zschaepe denies the charges of involvement in the gang's crimes. Mundlos and Böhnhardt killed themselves when the police closed in on them following a foiled robbery attempt in 2011.
Apart from the crimes themselves, the handling of the crimes by the NSU drew public ire in Germany, where authorities -- accused of covering up alleged intelligence about the gang prior to exposure of their crimes - were initially blamed on internal disputes within the country's Turkish community. As a result, the parliament formed a committee to investigate the allegations and theNSU committee heard testimony of eyewitnesses last week.
Binninger said their opinion of the NSU's activities differed from prosecutors who said the gang's only members were Zschaepe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt. "There are defendants on trial for supporting the gang but we seriously doubt that 27 crimes; including 10 murders, two bombings and 15 bank robberies, were simply the work of these people. The committee wants to dig deeper into the origins of the crimes and conduct a more detailed investigation," he said. Binninger, a former police officer, said the committee would especially focus on Nov. 4, 2011, the day Mundlos and Böhnhardt were found dead in their trailer home and Zschaepe set a house on fire that the trio lived together in the town of Zwickau. The committee will also focus on the murder of German police officer Michele Kiesewetter, the last known crime of the gang. Kiesewetter was shot dead in 2007 in the city of Heilbronn while she was sitting in her patrol car and a fellow police officer was heavily wounded when the suspects, thought to be Mundlos and Böhnhardt, opened fire. "All previous victims were of foreign origin, though they had German citizenship. Then, all of a sudden, they targeted two police officers. Moreover, they conducted the shooting with two different weapons. Apparently, they did not want it to be linked to their past crimes committed with the same gun."
Binninger said they would also further investigate the 2004 bomb attack by the NSU in Keupstrasse, a neighborhood in Cologne with a large Turkish population. "Clues were present which pointed to the perpetrators, such as a video showing Böhnhardt and Mundlos near the scene. A more thorough search using criminal databases might have led authorities to them. Intelligence services already had files on far-right groups with violent tendencies. They could have linked the gang members to the attack," Binninger said.
The lawmaker also questioned how the NSU was first discovered in 2011 despite the presence of informants working for intelligence services in Germany's far-right scene. "Is it true that there wasn't any informant at least knowing where this trio resides? I believe only a small circle of people were aware of the NSU's crimes, but I am not sure whether there was an informant among them. This still doesn't answer the question. I seriously doubt that there isn't a single informant who would at least know the suspects' whereabouts during the 11-year period they committed the crimes. The gang members lived under false names, but they weren't exactly in hiding. They even went on vacation together and made friends," he said.
In a recent conversation with AA, Özcan Mutlu, an opposition lawmaker, highlighted that authorities simply "stumbled on the case" in 2011, long after the murders of eight Turks and a Greek, between 2000 and 2006, which were notoriously branded the "döner killings" by the German media. He said the trial presented clear evidence that a murderous trio cannot be solely responsible for the murders and bombings.