Beate Zschäpe given life in German neo-Nazi murder trial

Beate Zschäpe in court on 11 JulyImage copyright
Reuters

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Beate Zschäpe was at the centre of one of the longest trials in modern German history

After a five-year trial, a member of a neo-Nazi gang has been found guilty of 10 racially-motivated murders.

Beate Zschäpe was the main defendant on trial over the murder of eight ethnic Turks, a Greek citizen and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007.

The verdict carries an automatic life sentence.

The connection between the murders was only discovered by chance in 2011, after a botched robbery led to the neo-Nazi group’s discovery.

Zschäpe shared a flat in the eastern town of Zwickau with two men, who died in an apparent suicide pact. The bodies of Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt were found in a burnt-out caravan used in the robbery.

Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt had formed a cell called the National Socialist Underground (NSU). An explosion at their home – apparently in an attempt to destroy evidence – led to Zschäpe turning herself in.

The NSU’s seven-year campaign exposed serious shortcomings in the German state’s monitoring of neo-Nazis, and led to a public inquiry into how German police failed to discover the murder plot.

Four other defendants were also given jail terms for their role in helping the NSU gang:

  • Ralf Wohlleben, a former official of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), was sentenced to 10 years for procuring the Ceska pistol with silencer used in nine murders. He was convicted of aiding and abetting murder.
  • Carsten S was given three years of juvenile detention. He is believed to have been a key contact for the Zwickau cell during their secret life, and was found guilty of handing the gang the Ceska pistol and silencer
  • André E was given two years and six months for helping a terrorist group. He had visited the Zwickau trio often, sometimes with his children, helping to give the neo-Nazis an air of normality.
  • Holger G received three years for giving his birth certificate and other ID to Uwe Mundlos, to protect him from the police.

Beate Zschäpe given life in German neo-Nazi murder trial

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