Neo-Nazi NSU member Zschäpe breaks silence | News | DW | 29.09.2016
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Neo-Nazi NSU member Zschäpe breaks silence

Three years into her trial over a spate of murders, robberies, and bomb attacks, Beate Zschäpe has personally addressed the court. She said she has turned away from far-right ideology.

Beate Zschäpe, the last known surviving member of a German neo-Nazi group accused of a spate of racist murders, broke her silence in a Munich court on Thursday, personally speaking for the first time since the trial against her began in 2013.

Along with the deceased Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, Zschäpe was a member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU). The NSU is thought to be behind the murder of nine Turkish-Germans and one police officer between 2000 and 2007. They are also accused of carrying out a series of nail-bomb attacks in immigrant neighborhoods.

After years of the trio living together in hiding, Mundlos and Böhnhardt died in an apparent murder-suicide in 2011, the same year Zschäpe turned herself in to the police.

In a short statement, 41-year-old Zschäpe told the court that as a young woman in eastern Germany in the aftermath of reunification, she "indeed identified with nationalist ideology." Today, however, she said: "I judge people not by their origin and political affiliation but by their behavior."

"I regret my own misconduct," she added, "I condemn what Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt did to the victims."

Zschäpe had previously addressed the court in a statement she wrote but which was read by her lawyer.

Zschäpe has admitted to an arson charge, but has ardently denied committing the murders. Prosecutors believe that she aided in bank robberies and bomb attacks and that she helped cover the men's tracks after the killings were committed. In a 53-page deposition, she claimed she only stayed with the pair after the fact because she feared going to jail.

The crime spree was originally blamed on Turkish-German organized crime, to the great embarrassment of security officials when the truth was discovered. Questions have also arisen as to how the cell could go undetected for so many years.

es/kms (AP, AFP)

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