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Hairdresser's health card under the spotlight in neo-Nazi trial

A somewhat uncooperative hairdresser has testified in Munich at the trial of those charged in a series of neo-Nazi murders. The woman's health insurance card was under particular focus.

There was a change of plans in the trial on Tuesday, with testimony initially expected to come from Brigitte Böhnhardt, the mother of one of the now-deceased men who allegedly killed eight Turks, a Greek small-businessman and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007.

The right-wing extremist group the National Socialist Underground (NSU) is suspected of being behind the killings.

Böhnhardt's testimony was delayed until November 19, with the court instead hearing the testimony of Hanover hairdresser Silvia S.

Silvia S. sold her health insurance card to one of the trial's co-accused, Holger G., for 300 euros. It was with this card that the main accused, Beate Zschäpe (pictured, above left), was able to make doctor appointments under a false name.

"I'm a poor hairdresser," Silvia S. told the court, stressing that she did not know Zschäpe and did not question for which purpose the card would be used.

During Tuesday's testimony, Silvia S. repeatedly used the same response, "nothing," in answer to the questions posed to her, including her own thoughts about the entire affair. The court heard Silvia S. chose not to speak about the use of the card with her husband, with whom she met Holger G. in 2005.

The 33-year-old admitted her husband her husband had "probably" been in the 'skinhead' scene in the past, but could not elaborate, because she and her husband did not discuss his life before they met. It is understood he will also be called up as a witness later on in the trial.

Zschäpe stands accused of being a member of NSU, and is also accused of trying to throw police off the trail of the two men who are believed to have pulled the trigger in the murders, Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos.

The first murder, when Enver Simsek was fatally shot in Nuremburg in 2000, was followed by nine further killings until 2007. Only in late 2011 did German authorities attribute the spree to far-right extremists, and were criticized for following false theories.

Mundlos and Böhnhardt, who allegedly carried out the execution-style killings motivated by xenophobia, died in an apparent murder-suicide in November 2011 in the eastern German city of Zwickau after a botched bank robbery. Zschäpe is also accused of trying to destroy evidence that could be used against the NSU by burning down a house in Zwickau shortly after their deaths, but has not been accused of direct involvement in the murders.

As well as Zschäpe, on trial before Munich's upper regional court are four other co-defendants.

jr/ph (dpa, AFP)