Abdülkerİm Şimşek, a son of the first victim of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) gang in Germany, is angry at how German authorities handled the case and said the trial showed that the country was "not a state of law at all."
Şimşek spoke to Anadolu Agency 17 years after his father, a florist of Turkish origin in Nuremberg, was shot dead by the group of neo-Nazis. Up until the police's accidental discovery of the NSU, no one was aware that the killing was the work of a neo-Nazi gang. It was only in 2011 that previously unsolved murders were found to be the work of the gang when the police stumbled on a video in which the gang claimed responsibility for the murders. By then, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt had killed themselves and currently, the only surviving member of the group is Beate Zschaepe, who has been on trial since 2013.
Şimşek was 13 when his father was gunned down in his van near the stall he where he sold flowers, but he remembers the aftermath of the murder, which was one of eight that members of the gang committed. Between 2000 and 2007, NSU members killed eight people of Turkish origin, as well as a Greek and a German policewoman. German police had not known of the gang's existence, as the course of investigations into the murders showed.
According to Şimşek, it was the families of victims who were under suspicion. Police questioned his uncles and mother for hours and planted bugs in their cars, he claimed. "They even sent special teams to Turkey to investigate the case," Şimşek said. "They investigated everyone except themselves."
Authorities initially blamed domestic disputes in the Turkish-German community for the murders and a bomb attack in a predominantly Turkish neighborhood, which was also later claimed by NSU. German media had dubbed the murders the "döner killings" in reference to the popular Turkish dish. Şimşek said the authorities fed the media rumors that his father and other victims were members of the mafia, drug smugglers and members of terrorist organizations. "We were never treated as victims, and for them, we were families of criminals. It was sad," Şimşek said.
The young man now looks forward to seeing the end of the trial of Zschaepe later this year, although he is not optimistic about the outcome. He said authorities had promised them that the case would be solved and anyone involved with the gang would be revealed, but so far, the legal process has been far from promising. Critics of the case claim police and intelligence services that hired people from the neo-Nazi scene as informants tried to erase their tracks connecting them to the NSU case. Blunders on the part of authorities investigating the NSU or coincidences leading to the destruction of critical evidence have been piling up in the case since the gang's existence was made public.
Şimşek said his family believed in the authorities' sincerity after their meetings with the German chancellor and president.
"We really believed in the promises that the case would be resolved, but soon we realized the facts are very different than the promises. We saw key documents being destroyed, we saw the obstruction of transferring of important evidence to the courts. I witnessed something strange and I realized that they were covering up the truth. This bothers my family very much. We are taken as fools," he said.
Şimşek added that he expected more from the trial and from the court but he has lost hope "[because] they will not shed light on anything new. They will punish [Zschaepe and her accomplices], but it does not matter whether they are sentenced to five years or to life. What matters for us is to see the disclosure of anyone involved in these murders," he said, referring to the role of intelligence services in the murders by turning a blind eye - intentionally or not - to the murders.
"But throughout this trial I found out that Germany is not a state ruled by law. There is no democracy in Germany," he claimed, saying the trial would not go beyond the punishment of Zschaepe and her accomplices.
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