The trial of suspects in connection with acts of violence allegedly carried out by a right-wing extremist group has switched its focus to a 2004 bombing in Cologne. Several victims were expected to take the stand.
On Tuesday, for the first time, a number of the 22 people who were injured in the nail-bomb explosion in the western German city of Cologne were scheduled to testify in the trial, which has mainly focused on 10 murders thought to have been committed by members of the right-wing group National Socialist Underground.
Several of the doctors who treated the victims were also to testify in the six days that have been set aside by the Munich Higher Regional Court to deal with the June 9, 2004 bombing, which occurred outside of a Turkish hairdressing shop on Cologne's Keupstrasse.
Some of the injuries caused by the bomb, which was packed with more than 700 nails, were life-threatening.
Like the murders of nine mostly Turkish small businessmen and a German policewoman, carried out between 2000 and 2007, the Cologne bombing has been blamed on the NSU.
Main suspects escaped justice
The two main suspects, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, who are thought to have planted the bomb on a bicycle outside of the hairdressing shop, escaped justice when they died, apparently through suicide, in November 2011 as police closed in on them after a bank robbery. They are also thought to have pulled the triggers in the 10 murders. The highest-profile suspect in the case and their alleged accomplice, Beate Zschäpe, is on trial, accused of being a member of a member of the NSU.
For years, police believed that the murders were linked to disputes within Germany's immigrant communities. It was after the deaths of Mundlos and Böhnhardt that police established links between the killings as well as the alleged racist motive.
Parallel to the trial of Zschäpe, a Bundestag parliamentary committee conducted an inquiry into why police failed to make the link earlier.
The committee's final report, adopted by the German parliament in September 2013, described this failure as a "shameful defeat" for the police and intelligence services.
pfd/rc (dpa, AFP)