Demonstrations in Munich ahead of neo-Nazi trial | News | DW | 14.04.2013
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Demonstrations in Munich ahead of neo-Nazi trial

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Munich in memory of 10 alleged murder victims of a neo-Nazi cell, the National Socialist Underground (NSU). A trial begins this week.

Saturday's demonstrations were called for by an alliance of leftist groups in memory of the NSU's alleged victims.

The right-wing extremist group is accused of killing 10 people - eight with Turkish heritage, one from Greece and a German policewoman - between 2000 and 2007. The group was only uncovered in 2011. The sole surviving alleged core member, a 38-year-old woman, and four alleged accomplices are facing trial. The case is scheduled to begin next Wednesday.

Organizers of the protest march and rally through Munich said there were up to 10,000 attendees, while a police spokesman put the figure at around 5,500. Both said the gathering had been peaceful.

The march went for about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) past a number of former Nazi buildings and a memorial to Munich's Oktoberfest bombing of 1980. On September 26, 1980, a bomb exploded at the festival gates leaving 211 injured and 13 dead, including the bomber himself. The perpetrator was 21-year-old geology student Gundolf Wilfried Koehler, a member of a right-wing extremist group called the Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann. The group had been banned shortly before the attack.

"We must have zero tolerance for neo-Nazis in this city," said a survivor of Auschwitz, Esther Bejarano, in a message to the demonstration.

Foreign journalists granted access

On Friday, the German Constitutional Court ruled that Turkish journalists must be granted accreditation for the upcoming trial.

The court ordered the upper regional court (OLG) in Munich to reserve "a suitable number of seats for representatives of foreign media with particular consideration to the victims of the alleged crimes."

Up until then, the OLG had resisted pressure to allow Turkish or Greek media into the court. There were 50 available places for reporters, and these were allocated on a "first come, first served" basis. No Turkish or Greek media outlets were among the first 50 to apply.

Several politicians, most recently Turkish President Abdullah Gül, had called for this situation to change - given a majority of the victims were of Turkish origin - along with Turkish and German news organizations, journalists' unions like the DJV and other groups.

The federal government had voiced its "hopes" for a "sensitive" solution to the situation, albeit simultaneously stressing that the decision must lie with the independent German judiciary.

jr/kms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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