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Court chronology

Anja Fähnle / gsw
May 6, 2014

On May 6, 2013, the NSU trial began in Germany. Two of the three main suspects in the neo-Nazi murders - Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos - killed themselves. That leaves Beate Zschäpe accused of murdering ten people.

Beate Zschäpe stands with her back turned to photographers in the courtroom
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Peter Kneffel/

April 17, 2013: A surprise blow comes as the NSU trial against primary defendant Beate Zschäpe and four others is about to begin in Munich's Higher Regional Court. Two days before the trial's start date, the court pushes it back by three weeks, citing controversy over the distribution of access to press seats. The seats are redistributed, this time to a higher number of foreign media representatives. For the victims' relatives and other plaintiffs, that adds insult to injury, said Barbara John, an ombudswoman for the victims and their families.

May 6, 2013: Right at the start of the trial, things grind to a halt. After the defense issues two formal challenges on the grounds of bias, the court postpones the hearing until mid-May. For joint plaintiff Gamze Kubasik, the second postponement of the trial comes as a "total shock," said her lawyer, Sebastian Scharmer. On defendant Beate Zschäpe's first day in the courtroom, her behavior upsets the victims' relatives, who are present as joint plaintiffs. Zschäpe laughs, makes jokes and brims with self-confidence in her business suit, even though she keeps her back turned to photographers as she enters the room.

May 14, 2013: Federal public prosecutor Herbert Diemer reads out the charges against the suspected neo-Nazi terrorist Beate Zschäpe and the four other defendants. Zschäpe is accused of being an accomplice in various NSU crimes. In the courtroom, the lawyers engage in heavy battles of words. The number of joint plaintiffs increases from 77 to 86 and includes numerous victims of nail bomb attacks carried out in Cologne.

June 6, 2013: "I'm sorry for the terrible magnitude of these crimes," says the first defendant, Holger G., in a broken voice to relatives of the murder victims. He says he is ready to accept responsibility for his complicity. Holger G. admits that he provided identification cards to the right-wing NSU trio but claims he was unaware of the group's terrorist crimes.

Suspect Carsten S. in court, wearing a large hood
Suspect Carsten S. hides his face from journalistsImage: picture-alliance/dpa

June 11, 2013: Defendant Carsten S. clears the air. Weeping, he describes how he provided the suspected members of the NSU terror group with a pistol. He claims he was called upon to do so by Ralf Wohlleben, a leading functionary within the right-wing NPD party also among the accused. Nine days later, Carsten S. offers an apology to the victims' families, saying, "I want to express my deepest sympathies to you." He always conceals his face in front of the photographers. The 33-year-old Carsten S. has now left the neo-Nazi scene and is currently part of the witness protection program managed by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA).

August 6, 2013: Beate Zschäpe remains silent, steadfastly refusing to speak. She even lets her three assigned lawyers answer questions from the chief judge about her condition. Now, after 32 days of hearings, comes the four-week summer break. The Higher Regional Court confirms the NSU trial could last two years or longer.

September 12, 2013: A 15-year-old TV video becomes a topic of conversation. An official with a State Office of Criminal Investigation talks in the TV show "Kripo live" on the MDR public broadcaster in 1998 about an escalation in readiness toward violence within the right-wing scene which included an all-points bulletin for Mundlos, Böhnhardt and Zschäpe. Shortly before that time, they had vanished after being searched on January 26, 1998. At the time, Zschäpe was 20 years old.

Ismail Yozgat, speaking in Kassel
Ismail Yozgat holds a speech in Kassel, Germany, on the eighth anniversary of his son's deathImage: picture-alliance/dpa

October 1, 2013: The father of one of the murder victims testifies. "Why did you kill my son?" he asks in a tear-choked voice. His son, Halit, was the ninth of 10 victims believed to have been killed by the NSU. The 21-year-old died in his father's arms while at work in an Internet cafe in the city of Kassel. Ismail Yozgat has visible difficulty maintaining his composure during the questions and sobs repeatedly.

November 5, 2013: The daughter of one of the NSU victims speaks up. Gamze Kubasik talks about her family's suffering after the death of her father. The police investigated both the victim and his family, which soon resulted in whispers and gossip about the father of three. The investigators in Dortmund did not work on the suspicion of right-wing perpetrators. Now, the daughter Gamze is seeking a complete explanation of what happened.

November 18, 2013: The father of Uwe Mundlos, one of two NSU suspects to have committed suicide, insults the chief judge, saying, "You're a little know-it-all." Judge Manfred Götzl threatens the 67-year-old mathematician with legal consequences but permits the questioning to go ahead. Siegfried Mundlos lays part of the blame for his son's drift into the right-wing scene on Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. He voices sympathy to the families of the NSU victims. However, he turns the court's perspective upside down by suggesting the accused terrorists - his son and Böhnhardt - are also victims. An attorney for the joint plaintiffs, Sebastian Scharmer, says Mundlos' statements show a lack of respect for the NSU victims' relatives.

December 20, 2013: A neighbor is unable to come to Beate Zschäpe's defense. In this instance, Zschäpe is also accused of attempting to murder neighbor Charlotte E. On November 4, 2011, Zschäpe set an apartment in Zwickau, Germany, on fire, in which she had lived with Böhnhardt and Mundlos. Their then neighbor, Charlotte E., has a walking disability, putting her in particular danger as the complex went up in flames. The elderly neighbor's nieces were able to rescue her before the fire engulfed the other half of the house. Did the suspect warn her neighbor? A video conference with the now 91-year-old Charlotte E. fails. She is overburdened and falls asleep. Federal attorneys say they want to conduct an interview with her directly in her nursing home in the near future.

The Higher Regional Court building in Munich, where the trial is being held
More than 600 witnesses are to take the stand in the NSU trialImage: picture-alliance/Sven Simon

January 16, 2014: On the docket is one NSU murder full of riddles. Police officer Michele Kiesewetter represents the final victim of the National Socialist Underground in late April 2007. She was shot dead during her lunch break, while her colleague Martin Arnold survived with serious injuries. The police officers' weapons and other evidence aren't found until four years later in a burned out motor home, in which the bodies of Böhnhardt and Mundlos are also discovered.

March 12, 2014: An intelligence official at the scene of the crime: Andreas T., who works with Germany's domestic intelligence authority at its state branch in Hessen, is sitting in the Internet cafe as Halit Yozgat, whose family has Turkish roots, is shot dead. Andreas T. claims not to have noticed the murder and that he was surfing online dating sites. He doesn't hand in an official explanation and is ultimately suspended from his job. His appearances during the trial remain questionable.

April 3, 2014: "She was a dear, sweet girl," says the mother of suspect Uwe Mundlos about Beate Zschäpe while on the witness stand. Today is the first time she's seen Zschäpe in years, she says. She describes her back then as friendly and eager to help. Other neighbors had already characterized her similarly in the trial.

May 6, 2014: The NSU trial has lasted for almost exactly one year. There is no end in sight. More than 70 days of hearings have taken place. Thus far, there are no signs that big surprises are still to come in the trial - unless the primary defendant chooses to break her silence.