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Neo-Nazi suspect Zschäpe wants rid of lawyer in NSU trial

Beate Zschäpe, the central figure at the Munich trial of neo-Nazi terror cell suspects, has requested the removal of one of her three court-appointed defense lawyers. The trial has been running since 2013.

The Munich court adjourned proceedings on Wednesday without hearing its intended witness, saying that Zschäpe had formally applied for the dismissal of defense counsel Anja Sturm (pictured left).

Sturm, together with two male colleagues, has represented Zschäpe at the two-year trial centered on a killing spree by the so-called National Socalist Underground (NSU) between 2000 and 2007.

A year ago, Zschäpe sought the dismissal of all three counsels but that application was rejected by the Munich court.

Zschäpe faces 27 charges linked to bombings and murders of 10 people on mainly racist grounds. Eight of the victims were German residents of Turkish origin, one had roots in Greece. The tenth was a German policewoman.

Two of the NSU leading members, Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, apparently committed suicide in 2011 after they botched a bank robbery; police found them dead in a mobile home, finding key evidence including the dead policewoman's service weapon.

On trial alongside Zschäpe are four other men from the neo-Nazi scene accused of abetting murder and supporting the NSU.

Witness fails to turn up

The witness called to testify on Wednesday was a singer of a neo-Nazi band from Jena in eastern Germany, who had had contacts with Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos.

But he did not turn up to testify, according to presiding judge Manfred Götzl.

ipj/msh (dpa, AFP)

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