Criticized for not fulfilling her pledge to fully shed light on connections of Germany's National Socialist Underground (NSU) gang that killed eight Turks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a new promise on the matter on Friday.
Merkel said the crimes of the NSU were a dark stain on Germany's history and a chapter that cannot be closed. "We did a lot and I will do more about it," Merkel said, in reference to the matter, one week after the gang's sole surviving member was sentenced to life.
Speaking at a press conference, the Chancellor said the court handed down verdicts but "the chapter cannot be closed." She said Germany reformed working methods of security forces - which were criticized for the handling of investigations into NSU's crimes. "How could such horrible, such complicated acts happen and not be timely detected by the relevant authorities, and could not be resolved for a long time," she said. "My mission is to ensure coordinated work of security units to shed light on all cases and security forces will work to prevent a repeat of [such crimes]," Merkel added.
The gang is implicated in the killings of 10 people, including eight Turks and a Greek man, mainly based on racist motives between 2000 and 2007. The gang composed of Beate Zschaepe, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, also killed a German policewoman. It is also charged with a bomb attack on a Turkish neighborhood in Germany. Mundlos and Bohnhardt took their own lives when police closed in on them. The trial that started five years ago concluded with a life sentence for Zschaepe by a Munich court last week and lenient sentences for four accomplices of the gang. Nevertheless, the trial failed to respond to allegations of a cover-up of intelligence services' ties to the gang and the neo-Nazi scene in general.
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 when it came to light after Zschaepe's surrender. Authorities initially blamed domestic disputes in the Turkish community for the murders and other crimes committed by the NSU.
In 2012, Merkel had openly promised that all murders by NSU would be fully investigated, but a report by German parliament released last year pointed out that a thorough investigation was not conducted, specifically on the "support network" of the NSU. The network consists of many members of the neo-Nazi scene in Germany but only four accomplices of the gang were detected despite the report's claim that the NSU trio was surrounded by at least 40 people working as informants for German intelligence.