German prosecutors in the lengthy trial of the alleged last member of a neo-Nazi terrorist group began their closing arguments yesterday. The case has been adjourned to next week.
Beate Zschaepe has been on trial in a Munich court for almost four years for her role as an accomplice in the National Socialist Underground (NSU) killings of eight Turkish immigrants, a Greek citizen and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007.
Zschaepe, 42, has denied any involvement in the murders, blaming the murders on two other NSU members, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Bohnhardt, who died in an apparent murder-suicide in 2011. A professional gardener, Zschaepe has also been accused of torching the apartment where she lived with Mundlos and Bohnhardt in the eastern Germany city of Zwickau.
The case was launched in May 2013 and has now stretched over more than 370 days. Four other suspects are also on trial in Munich, accused of providing support to the far-right group.
Zschaepe's lawyers are expected to present their closing arguments in September with a verdict due later in the year.
The NSU was also responsible for a bomb attack in a Turkish neighborhood and a string of bank robberies. However, their crimes were only discovered accidentally after two gang members committed suicide in 2011.
A video belonging to the gang members showing the crimes being committed revealed the presence of the neo-Nazi gang, which was apparently already known to intelligence agencies that had maintained ties with neo-Nazi figures linked to the gang who were serving as informants, providing intelligence services.
The discovery of the NSU shed light on how police, either deliberately or mistakenly, blamed domestic disputes in the Turkish community for the murders.
The two families of the murder victims recently sued Germany for damages. Speaking to DPA, Mehmet Daimagüler, the lawyer who represents the 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, the families say the gang, which has close ties to informants working for German intelligence as well as connections to a string of actions that have fueled suspicion regarding their activities, could have been discovered before 2000, the year when they started their murderous rampage targeting Turks. The families also seek compensation for damages incurred from being "wrongfully suspected" by police in the murders of victims.
Blunders on the part of authorities investigating the NSU or "coincidences" that led up to the destruction of critical evidence have been piling up in the case since the gang's existence was made public. Critics of the case also claim police and intelligence services that had hired people from the neo-Nazi scene to serve as informants have tried to erase their connections 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.