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Germany

In NSU trial, state lawyers say Beate Zschäpe was 'co-founder' and key member

In their closing arguments, federal prosecutors drove home a description of Zschäpe as directly involved in the NSU's murders and bombings. They rejected Zschäpe's defense that she was dependent on her co-conspirators.

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Closing arguments begin in neo-Nazi murder trial – DW's Michaela Küfner reports

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On Wednesday, German state attorneys presented their closing arguments against Beate Zschäpe, arguing that the accused "played a central role" in the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a right-wing extremist terrorist group that was responsible for 10 murders, two bomb attacks and various bank robberies between 2000 and 2007.

Read more: Germany's NSU neo-Nazi terror trial - what you need to know

With the prosecution's plea, the marathon trial that began in May 2013 has moved into its final stage. The closing arguments are expected to last around 22 hours and take place over the next few days, with a final verdict in the case expected in the coming months. The case is being heard before the Munich High Regional Court.

A 'main player' in a series of crimes

The leading Federal Public Prosecutor Herbert Diemer stated that the evidence presented in court over the last four years had shown that Zschäpe, a gardener by training, was a "co-founder, member and accomplice" of the terror group that wanted to establish a "foreigner-free" country.

Senior public prosecutor Anette Greger described Zschäpe as a NSU member whose standing in the group and participation in the racially-motivated crimes was equal to that of now-dead fellow members Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Bönhardt.

"All three members worked together hand-in-hand, deliberately and mutually, to achieve their goals," Greger said.

Read more: Neo-Nazi NSU murder report shows Angela Merkel's 'broken promises'

Mundlos and Bönhardt killed themselves after a botched robbery in 2011, and Zschäpe handed herself into the police shortly after. In her testimony, the 42-year-old denied being a member of the NSU and having participated in any of the group's crimes, instead describing herself as subserviently dependent on the two men.

However, the state attorney strongly countered this portrayal and portrayed Zschäpe as a key participant whose actions helped keep the group undiscovered and directly facilitated the murders of eight Turkish immigrants, a Greek citizen and one German policewoman, though Zschäpe herself did not directly carry out any of the crimes.

Greger argued that Zschäpe had been involved in the NSU's sourcing and stockpiling of weapons, munition, and explosives, and that the defendant had also helped the group acquire identification documents and SIM cards.  Additionally, the defendant was responsible for the group's money, as well as its primary mobile phone, computer and laptop, the prosecutor argued.

The group had a "very close, trusting relationship," Greger said, adding that Zschäpe, Mundlos and Bönhardt's trust was unconditional.

If Zschäpe is found guilty, she could be sentenced to life in prison. Four other individuals have been accused of aiding the NSU in its crimes.

Zschäpe's defense will present its closing arguments in September.

cmb/msh (AFP, dpa)

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