A lawyer in the trial against the far-right group NSU has said a client he represented in the case may not have existed. The client - a woman - was supposed to be a victim of a 2004 bomb attack in Cologne.
Lawyer Ralph Willms had been representing the client, Meral K. since the beginning of the trial against the NSU (National Socialist Underground) in May 2013, German "Der Spiegel" reported on Friday. According to the German magazine, Willms is believed to have filed a report regarding the matter and withdrawn from the case.
"Der Spiegel" tweeted the news with the comment "A purported joint plaintiff in the NSU trial apparently does not exist."
However, the regional court in Munich, which is hearing the case, declined to comment, saying it had not received any communication from Willms.
The issue came to light earlier this week when presiding Judge Manfred Götzl demanded that Willms reveal his client's whereabouts. The lawyer's efforts to present Meral K. in court had proven fruitless.
Fraudster at large
In a message through his legal assistants, Willms said he had been cheated by another purported victim of the attack. This man is supposed to have presented the non-existent Meral K. as a client to Willms, but the two were never able to meet in person due to the client's living in Turkey and poor health.
According to "Spiegel," Willms had also presented the court with medical certificate issued to Meral K. by a doctor in 2004. An identical document was apparently used by the same person who brought Meral K.'s case to Willms.
Zschäpe's trial has been slow to shed light on how the NSU operated unbeknownst to police for over 10 years
Willm's message also said this person showed the lawyer a picture of Meral K. and acted as a broker in return for a commission. Recently however, the man tried to cheat another lawyer into representing the woman, showing him the same picture but under a different name.
In his defense, Willms said he came to know of this person's "deceitful" ploy "incidentally" and only recently.
Twenty-two people were severely injured in a bomb attack in Cologne's Keupstrasse (pictured above) in 2004. The bombing was blamed on two members of the neo-Nazi NSU, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, who later killed themselves in 2011 as police closed in on their terror cell.
Beate Zschäpe, the only known remaining member of the NSU, is now charged with the 10 murders orchestrated by the far-right group and is standing trial in Munich.