Trial of neo-nazi NSU terror cell resumes in Germany | News | DW | 14.05.2013
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Trial of neo-nazi NSU terror cell resumes in Germany

The landmark NSU trial of alleged neo-Nazi Beate Zschäpe, and four others, has resumed in Germany. Legal wrangling has been dominating proceedings and the charges were read out with considerable delay.

The sole surviving alleged National Socialist Underground (NSU) core member, Beate Zschäpe, returned to Munich's Upper Regional Court on Tuesday as the trial resumed after a week-long delay.

The trial began under tight security, with about 350 police present.

After the trial opened on May 6, two defense teams submitted petitions claiming prejudice against their clients, including the main defendant, Beate Zschäpe. The court dismissed the claims.

Zschäpe faces charges relating to ten murders, two bombings of immigrant areas in Cologne, and 15 bank robberies. Eight of the murder victims were Turkish immigrants. One was Greek and the final victim was a German policewoman.

Zschäpe is believed to be one of the founding members of the NSU, a group that went undetected in Germany for over a decade. The group's cover was blown in November 2011 with the dramatic apparent suicide of two of Zschäpe's suspected accomplices, and the torching of an apartment believed to be shared by all three alleged members of the cell. A few days after the fire, Zschäpe turned herself in to police in the eastern city of Jena.

However, prosecutors claim Zschäpe torched the apartment in the eastern German town of Zwickau.

Four other people, accused of lending assistance to the NSU, are also on trial. The proceedings could stretch into 2014, with over 600 witnesses scheduled to be called. If convicted, Zschäpe faces life in prison.

All eyes on Munich

The court case is seen as one of Germany's most significant terror trials in several decades. Although fringe right-wing violence has occurred in Germany before, the NSU murders revealed the depth and capabilities of such organizations. The murders also exposed apparent police incompetency, as the group was able to operate without detection for over ten years.

While the trial takes place in the Munich court, a parliamentary inquiry has also been launched into the apparent lack of cooperation among law enforcement agencies that allowed the NSU to remain undetected for so long.

The head of a German parliamentary committee assigned with finding out what went wrong during the investigations, Social Democrat Sebastian Edathy, submitted an interim report on Monday, with his final paper due this summer.

Edathy spoke of a "peerless failure" in the case of the NSU investigation, "a shameful failure with many varying causes." He said, however, that there was no indication that the state covered for or supported the group, but criticized the intelligence agencies for underestimating the threat of right-wing extremism and for failing to convey its findings more publicly.

hc,dr/rg (Reuters, dpa)