The trial on the crimes of Germany's infamous National Socialist Underground (NSU) neo-Nazi gang may take a new turn as Beate Zschaepe, the sole surviving member of the gang, was found complicit in crimes she denied, according to German media reports.
The claim is based on a DVD found in the wreckage of a house the gang lived in. The reconstructed DVD discovered in the ruins of the house, which was set on fire by gang members after police closed in on them, points to the involvement of Zschaepe in crimes of the gang as early as 2004. Zschaepe, on trial since 2013, has denied her knowledge of the crimes beforehand and did not take part in robberies and murders committed by NSU's other members, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt.
Quoting security sources, German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said video footage showing news reports immediately after a bombing in Cologne in 2004 was apparently recorded by Zschaepe, who was preparing a "confessions" video regarding the gang's crimes. Security sources said the footage on the DVD found in the house in Zwickau and the time of the recording showed it was not possible that Boehnhardt and Mundlos could have recorded the video themselves, and a third person, most likely Zschaepe, recorded the video. Sources said this means that Zschaepe's claim that she was not aware of the crimes beforehand is not valid and she was apparently arranging a video for the "confessions" of crimes due to other materials found on the DVD. The bombing in question injured 22 people in Cologne's Keupstrasse, where a predominantly Turkish population lives. Along with the bombing, the NSU is accused of a string of robberies and more notoriously, killing 10 people, including eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman.
The NSU trial and prosecution of the gang were mired by a series of incidents overshadowing the case, such as the suspicious deaths of key witnesses on the activities of the three-person gang, whose two other members apparently killed themselves after the police closed in on them. German authorities were also blamed for not shedding light on the possible connection between the gang and German intelligence, which recruited informants close to the gang from Germany's far-right scene.
After two years of silence in hearings, Zschaepe finally decided to make a statement at the Munich court where she began trial in December. She claimed she learned about the crimes between 2000 and 2007 only after they occurred.
She said she was "horrified" when Böhnhardt and Mundlos told her about some murders and thought about informing the police. What changed her mind was the "threat by the two men to commit suicide" and her financial dependence on the men. She said she felt "morally guilty" because she could not prevent the crimes and took herself to drinking four bottles of wine every day to forget what transpired. Zschaepe also admitted that she set fire to a flat where she had lived with the two men after they killed themselves in 2011. She said she acted out of an agreement she had made previously with the duo to destroy evidence of their crimes if they died.