NSU trial: Beate Zschäpe defense team requests maximum 10-year prison sentence | News | DW | 26.04.2018

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NSU trial: Beate Zschäpe defense team requests maximum 10-year prison sentence

Federal prosecutors accuse Beate Zschäpe of helping carry out a string of neo-Nazi terror attacks in Germany between 2000 and 2007. The case has been one of the most high-profile neo-Nazi trials in recent years.

Beate Zschäpe

Beate Zschäpe

Defense lawyers asked a court in Munich on Thursday to give Beate Zschäpe a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for her involvement in the National Socialist Underground (NSU) terrorist cell.

State attorneys had demanded a life sentence for Zschäpe, who they say helped plan and carry out a string of murders and bomb attacks between 2000 and 2007.

Read more: What is Germany's NSU terror trial?

The facts of the case: 

  • Zschäpe is the only surviving member of the NSU, which also included Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos. Both men committed suicide after authorities identified the group in 2011.
  • Investigators say the NSU murdered nine people targeted for their immigration backgrounds and a police officer. The cell has also been accused of committing two bomb attacks and a series of bank robberies.
  • Zschäpe has been charged with joint complicity in 10 counts of murder, arson, multiple robberies, extortion, the formation of a terrorist organization and membership in a terrorist organization.
  • Federal prosecutors have said Zschäpe should serve a maximum life sentence.
  • But her lawyer, Mathias Grasel, said on Thursday that she was guilty of arson, extortion, aiding multiple robberies, and conspiracy to commit robberies, but that there was no evidence for her the other charges. Her sentence, they said, should not exceed 10 years in prison.

Read more: Neo-Nazi serial murder trial enters final phase

What Grasel said:

"These crimes [the murders] were committed solely by Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos."

"My client cannot be made responsible for the acts of the two men as the only survivor."

"The legal system must be able to deal with crimes for which the actual perpetrators can no longer be held accountable."

Who is Beate Zschäpe? Zschäpe is a 43-year-old from Jena in eastern Germany, where she, Böhnhardt and Mundlos had been active right-wing extremists. She gave herself up to police in 2011 after taping a video confession about the group's alleged crimes.

Read more: NSU: State parliament votes to compensate victims' families of neo-Nazi terror

Mammoth trial: The trial against Zschäpe started in 2013 in Munich's Higher Regional Court and has been closely watched by the German media. The court has so far heard more than 800 witnesses and interviewed over 40 experts. Zschäpe, who did not speak for the first two and a half years of the trial, was given a new defense team after throwing out her old one.

What happens next? The court is set in the next few weeks to hear pleas from Zschäpe's previous lawyers and four people accused of helping the NSU. A final ruling is expected sometime after June.

Read more: Opinion: Beate Zschäpe just wants to save her skin

amp/rt (Reuters, AFP, dpa)