Two families of murder victims of the National Socialist Underground, a neo-Nazi gang that killed eight Turks in Germany, sued the country for damages, German media outlets reported.
Speaking to DPA, Mehmet Daimagüler, the lawyer who represents families of Enver Şimşek and İsmail Yaşar, said the lawsuit was over a series of mishaps in the search for the neo-Nazi gang. In their petition for the lawsuit, families say the gang, with its close ties to informants working for German intelligence and with a string of actions drawing suspicion to their activities, could have been discovered before 2000, the year when they started their murderous rampage targeting Turks. Families also seek for damages for being "wrongfully suspected" by police in the murders of victims.
The NSU is accused of murdering eight Turks, carrying out a string of bank robberies and a bomb attack targeting a predominantly Turkish neighborhood in Germany.
Its three members managed to dodge authorities for years before being discovered in 2011, apparently by pure chance as police stumbled upon a video in which they were boasting about their crimes. Beate Zschaepe, the only surviving member of the gang, is being prosecuted in a lengthy trial that began in 2013. Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, two other members, took their own lives when police closed in on them in 2011 after a botched robbery.
Blunders on the part of authorities investigating the NSU or "coincidences" leading to destruction of critical evidence had been piling up in the case since the gang's existence was made public in 2011. Critics of the case also claim police and intelligence services that hired people from the neo-Nazi scene as informants tried to erase their tracks leading to the NSU case. Despite its links to many gangs in Germany's neo-Nazi scene, the NSU apparently went unnoticed for years, from the late 1990s to 2011. Authorities initially blamed domestic disputes in the Turkish community for the murders and other crimes between 2000 and 2007. German media has even dubbed the murders the "döner killings" in reference to the popular Turkish dish.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency earlier this month, Abdülkerim Şimşek, a son of Enver Şimşek, the first victim of the NSU, said he was angry at how German authorities handled the case and said the trial showed that the country was "not a state of law at all." 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." 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. 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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