Mehmet Daimagüler, one of the lawyers for the families of victims in Germany's notorious National Socialist Underground (NSU) case, says he would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Addressing a conference on the NSU and racism in Germany at Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul yesterday, Daimagüler said he did not trust German courts and did not expect much from the legal process in Germany regarding the neo-Nazi gang.
The NSU, composed of three members, were behind the murders of eight Turkish and one Greek immigrant and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007. Two members killed themselves when the police closed in on them, while the sole surviving member, Beate Zschaepe, was sentenced to life in a trial that concluded last year.
"I don't trust German courts and that's why we filed a compensation lawsuit [for the victims]. If the German government, state administrations did their jobs properly, if police did not look into the murders through a racist angle, people would not get killed," the lawyer said.
The gang's three members managed to dodge authorities for years before being discovered in 2011, apparently by pure chance as the police stumbled on a video in which they were boasting about their crimes. Blunders on the part of authorities investigating the NSU or "coincidences" leading to the 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.
The lawyer said he was certain cases against the NSU would be "lost," referring to appeals to the sentence for Zschaepe and the gang's accomplices who got away with lenient sentences. "But we will take these cases to the European Court of Human Rights afterwards," he said.
Daimagüler also spoke about threats the lawyers of victims faced. "I've received about 1,600 threats so far but I didn't take them seriously. Barking dogs seldom bite," he added. However, he expressed concern about threats to fellow lawyer Seda Başay Yıldız. "It was discovered that threats were linked to a police station and had everything from the address of her residences to the address of her parents. It is also a big scandal that police told Yıldız that they can't protect her properly and suggested she buy a gun to defend herself," he said.