Germany has begun making payments to victims of crimes attributed to a neo-Nazi cell uncovered in November. With a large stack of applications, the government says it hopes to approve them in an "non-bureaucratic" way.
The German government on Monday said it has begun giving out compensation payments to victims of a neo-Nazi cell suspected of committing multiple crimes, including at least 10 murders and two bomb attacks over a seven-year period.
A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said the government had already received several applications, and that some victims had already received payments of between 5,000 and 10,000 euros ($6,600 and $13,200).
The spokeswoman said the ministry aims to approve the applications in an "non-bureaucratic" manner so victims will not have to give detailed accounts of their suffering in order to be compensated.
The National Socialist Underground, a three-member neo-Nazi cell, was uncovered in November. Investigators believe it was behind the murders of nine shop owners of Turkish and Greek origin and one policewoman between 2000 and 2007.
The group is also suspected of carrying out two bomb attacks in the western city of Cologne in 2001 and 2004 and a number of armed bank robberies. Twenty-three people were injured in the bombings.
The Justice Ministry announced a 1-million-euro fund for victim compensation last November. It has declined to estimate how many victims would receive payouts, but Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has said additional money could be approved if necessary.
The discovery of the neo-Nazi cell - and its ability to avoid detection for more than a decade - has led to calls for better coordination of Germany's 32 state police forces and intelligence agencies.
Author: Andrew Bowen (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler