The main figure in Germany's trial of neo-Nazi suspects accused of a series of racist killings may be about to have the conditions of her incarceration relaxed. Beate Zschäpe has been on trial since May 2013.
According to a report published by the German news magazine "Focus" on Sunday, Beate Zschäpe, 39, could soon be given a cellmate.
Focus cited a court decision from November 4, which stated that allowing Zschäpe to share a cell with another woman was "permissible" and that it would not necessarily lead to an "endangerment of the purpose of her imprisonment on remand." However, the Munich Higher Regional Court also stipulated that Zschäpe must not share a cell with a person suspected of any sort of terrorist act.
According to the "Focus" report, Zschäpe applied to the court in writing at the end of October to be allowed to share a cell with another suspect, rather than being held in solitary confinement, as she is now. This report has since been confirmed by her lawyer to the news agency DPA.
Zschäpe has been held in custody since being arrested in late 2011 and her trial began in May 2013.
Series of immigrant killings
She stands accused of being a member of the right-wing extremist National Socialist Underground (NSU), which is thought to have been behind the killings of nine immigrants - mostly of Turkish origin - and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007.
She is also accused of trying to throw police off the trail of the two men who are believed to have pulled the trigger in the murders, Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos.
Böhnhardt and Mundlos escaped justice when they died, apparently through suicide, in November 2011 as police closed in on them after a bank robbery.
It was only then that police established links between the killings as well as the alleged racist motive. Until then, police had believed most of the murders were the products of disputes within Germany's Turkish community.
Parallel to the trial of Tschäpe, 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/jr (dpa, AFP)