Credibility of NSU defendant called into question | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 21.06.2013
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Credibility of NSU defendant called into question

Defendant Carsten S. is accused of complicity in the NSU murders for allegedly supplying the gun with which nine of the 10 victims were killed. At the end of his testimony, S. apologized to the families of the victims.

For eight days, Carsten S. answered questions in the criminal proceedings against the National Socialist Underground (NSU) in Munich before his questioning ended on Thursday (20.06.2013). As the only one of five defendants willing to speak during the trial, all those involved were eager to hear his account. The others, including Beate Zschäpe, charged with 10 counts of murder, refused to testify or limited themselves to reading a prepared statement, as in the case of Holger G.

On the penultimate day of his hearing, the 33-year-old Carsten S. said he could not imagine what "incredible suffering" he had brought upon the families, and said he lacked the words to properly express his regret.

"An apology would not be enough," he said, just a sorry and then it would be over and done. "But it is far from over," he said. "I wanted to express to you my deepest sympathy."

Holger G. Foto: Andreas Gebert/dpa

Holger G. (hidden, center) refused to testify

S. allegedly acquired murder weapon

Lawyers for the plaintiffs had differing reactions to his words. Detlef Kolloge, who represents the family of Yunus Turgut, said he was "fairly convincing." But Yavuz Narin, the lawyer for the family of Theodoros Boulgarides, said the apology was just an "unconvincing defensive maneuver."

The credibility of S. is also being called into question, particularly with regard to his testimony in connection with the murders allegedly committed by the NSU. From 2000 to 2007, the members of the alleged far-right terrorist group are said to have been responsible for the murders of 10 people, among them nine people with foreign heritage.

According to S., he allegedly acquired a Ceka pistol on behalf of the co-accused Ralf Wohlleben, a former functionary of the far right-wing political party NPD. It was this weapon that he supposedly passed on to the alleged NSU terrorists, Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, around the beginning of 2000.

Defense pushing for repeal of arrest warrant

Böhnhardt and Mundlos committed suicide in November 2011. According to the findings of criminal investigators, nine of the 10 victims were killed with a Ceska. But Wohlleben's attorneys, Nicole Schneider and Olaf Klemke, said testimony given by Carsten S. was contradictory. They said there is no evidence that the weapon he procured was the murder weapon, and that the arrest warrant against Wohlleben should be set aside and that he should be released immediately.

Beate Zschäpe Foto: Andreas Gebert/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Zschäpe is charged with 10 counts of murder

Further information came to light during the Carsten S.'s testimony. According to his statements, when he was delivering the weapon to Böhnhardt and Mundlos, the two boasted that they had left a "flashlight" in a Nuremburg shop. Carsten S. said he didn't know what they meant at the time. In the fall of 1999, an explosive device went off in a bar in Nuremburg, injuring an 18-year-old. The owner of the premises was a Turkish-born man. Based on this information, the Federal Prosecutor's office decided to also charge Zschäpe with suspicion of attempted murder.

Possible further offense

Federal prosecutor Herbert Diemer said he sees a possible further NSU connection with regard to a statement thought to be made by Wohlleben to S. According to the statement, Wohlleben spoke in a telephone call of a shooting in Nuremberg. The Federal Criminal Police Agency (BKA) will now determine whether there is anything to the story.

Whether these statements will have mitigating effect for Carsten S. is difficult to judge at this early stage of the proceedings. Prosecutor Jochen Weingarten seems to doubt S.'s credibility. The defendant claims to have left Thuringia's far-right scene in 2000 - coincidentally, Weingarten said, just around the time of the first alleged NSU murder in September 2000 when florist Enver Simsek was shot in Nuremberg.

Carsten S. has said his exit from the far-right scene was due to his homosexuality, which he said had caused him difficulties in those surroundings. What is clear is that at the beginning of 2000, Carsten S. left Thuringia to study social work in Dusseldorf. Until his arrest in late 2011, he had been working at an AIDS support organization.

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