A witness in Germany's high-profile NSU neo-Nazi trial has described a conversation between two men casually discussing their attacks on shopkeepers. He said the two men had also hinted they'd planted a bomb.
Carsten S., whose full name was withheld under German privacy guidelines, wept Tuesday as he told the court in Munich how two alleged members of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) boasted about carrying out acts of violence.
Earlier in the trial, Carsten S admitted he believed a handgun he'd passed to Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos was used in the nine of the killings allegedly committed by members of the NSU.
Böhnhardt and Mundlos, who are alleged to be the core members of the NSU along with Beatte Zschäpe, died in an apparent suicide pact in 2011. Zschäpe is currently on trial as their accomplice and faces life in prison if convicted.
Possible bombing link
His face hidden by a hood, Carsten S. also described a conversation between the Böhnhardt and Mundlos in early 2000 where they said they "had left a flashlight in some shop in Nuremberg."
"Then Ms. Zschäpe came into the room, they said 'shush' so she wouldn't hear," he said.
This was the first evidence to come out during the trial that indicated that Zschäpe was not initially involved in the 2000-2007 killing spree in which eight residents of Turkish origin, a resident of Greek origin and a German policewoman were shot dead.
Casten S. said he did not initially understand what Böhnhardt and Mundlos meant when they were talking about the flashlight, but after returning home he realized the two had packed a flashlight with explosives as a bomb.
In June 1999 a bomb that reportedly looked like a flashlight exploded at a pub in Nuremberg. The "Nürnberger Nachrichten" newspaper reported at the time that an 18-year-old male was lightly injured.
Previous investigations into the NSU had found the group only began its string of violence in September 2000 with the shooting of a florist in Nuremberg.
Case against Wohlleben
The witness' testimony also appeared to strengthen the case against the co-accused Ralf Wolhlleben, a former state chairman and spokesman for the Thuringia branch of Germany's rightwing National Democratic Party.
Carsten S. told the court that Wohlleben had given him the money for the gun that he subsequently purchased and passed on to Böhnhardt and Mundlos.
"I telephoned Wohlleben and Wohlleben laughed and said they had shot at somebody," the witness said. "I thought to myself, hopefully not with that gun."
Carsten S. is also on trial on charges of assisting the NSU. A certified car painter, he claims to have left the far-right circles in 2000.
dr/pfd (dpa, Reuters)