A Munich court has again begun issuing press passes for the neo-Nazi NSU cell trial. The group is accused of killing 10 people, eight with Turkish heritage. The case was delayed when no Turkish media at first won access.
In Munich Friday, the state of Bavaria's upper regional court (OLG) restarted its press accreditation process for the trial of five people allegedly connected to the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground (NSU) cell. The trial was initially scheduled to start on April 17, but was delayed to allow the court to reallocate places for the media.
The German Constitutional Court, acting in support of a complaint from the Turkish newspaper Sabah, ordered the OLG to ensure that press places were reserved for foreign media, with particular consideration for the victims.
Among other crimes, the NSU is accused of killing 10 people between 2000 and 2007, eight of them of Turkish heritage, one from Greece and a German policewoman.
Previously, none of the 50 available places - allocated on a "first come, first served" basis - were given to Turkish or Greek media.
Of the 50 seats reserved for journalists, 10 will now be given to "German-language media based abroad and foreign-language media." Four of these 10 places will go to Turkish publications, one to a Greek outlet and to another reporting in Farsi. Domestic German media will be allocated 35 places. The remaining five spots are reserved for German and international wire service news agencies.
Instead of the "first come, first served" principle previously used, the places within the categories will be doled out by random selection instead.
"I consider this, out of respect for the victims and their relatives and as a sign to their countries of origin, to be stringently necessary," the German government's special representative for integration, Maria Böhmer, said on Friday.
The only alleged core member of the NSU still alive, 38-year-old Beate Zschäpe, and four alleged accomplices are on trial. The group was only uncovered in 2011, after a botched bank robbery led police to the group by chance.
One week ago, on April 12, Germany’s Constitutional Court ordered a change in the previously allocated positions, with the court subsequently saying it could only do this by delaying the start of the trial and restarting the application process.
German authorities were already somewhat on the back foot with regard to the NSU; the group evaded capture for more than a decade, its alleged murders were initially linked with organized crime within immigrant communities, and investigative irregularities later surfaced that led to leadership reshuffles in several of the German domestic intelligence agencies.
The trial is now scheduled to start on May 6.
msh/rc (AFP, dpa, epd)