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Germany

NSU trial: Zschäpe's one word about a child's murder

So far, there are still no answers to the startling discovery that DNA from a deceased NSU suspect was found at the site of a dead child.

Beate Zschäpe (pictured above) rarely speaks during the ongoing trial against her and the National Socialist Underground (NSU) terror group that she is accused of being a part of. When she does, it is in response to the court's written questions, which her attorney answers on her behalf.

The process was no different on the trial's 328th day at Bavaria's State Appeals Court. Three questions were submitted to the defense team on October 26 in hopes of clarifying what had come to light two weeks earlier: The possible connection between the NSU and the unsolved murder of Peggy, who was 9 years old when she was murdered in 2001. The girl's remains were found in July by a man collecting wild mushrooms in a forest along the German state borders of Thuringia and Bavaria. Investigators found DNA belonging to Uwe Böhnhardt, one of Zschäpe's suspected NSU accomplices, at the crime scene. The questions that arose out of the discovery Böhnhardt himself cannot answer, as he took his own life on November 4, 2011, along with Uwe Mundlos, another NSU suspect.

Six weeks waiting for a one-word answer: 'No'

Bildkombo Peggy Kobloch / Uwe Böhnhardt (picture-alliance/dpa/BKA)

The murdered Peggy and alleged NSU member Uwe Böhnhardt

On that day, the suspected NSU threesome failed to pull off a bank heist in Eisenach, a town in Thuringia. Only then was the alleged right-wing terror group linked to a series of unsolved murders that left 10 people dead. Only Zschäpe remains alive to stand trial for the crimes the group is accused of. Her attorney, Hermann Borchert, answered the court's three questions from October about whether his client has knowledge of the child's murder with a single word: No, leaving the possible involvement of Zschäpe's long-time associate in the murder unclear. Police have said that Peggy's crime scene may have been contaminated by forensic utensils used during evidence collection at an earlier NSU site involving Böhnhardt. The investigation into that possibility continues.

Lawyer for co-plaintiff: 'A lot of noise for nothing'

Speculation about the connection between the NSU and Peggy's murder also persists because of an NSU computer found with child pornography stored on it. Böhnhardt had installed a used hard drive, Zschäpe said, and she was herself not aware of the images until they surfaced during the trial. "Apparently, the data were already on the used drive," she said via her attorney.

Those involved with and observing the trial are asking why it took the defense a month and a half to deliver such a terse answer. The courtroom's viewing gallery was full of people eager to hear what Zschäpe would say.

"A lot of noise for nothing," said Bernd Behnke with a somber shake of his head. He is the lawyer for a co-plaintiff, the brother of Mehmet Turgut, who was murdered in Rostock in 2004.

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