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New demand from Zschäpe in NSU trial

December 8, 2015

The defense lawyer for alleged neo-Nazi terrorist Beate Zschäpe has confirmed he will read out her first testimony in the trial on Wednesday. But he asked for any questions to be given in written form.

Deutschland NSU Prozess Beate Zschäpe
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/T. Hase

Beate Zschäpe, the main defendant in a trial over a series of alleged murders, robberies and attacks by the neo-Nazi cell "National Socialist Underground" (NSU), will have her long-awaited first testimony read out in court on Wednesday, her defense lawyer Mathias Grasel confirmed on Tuesday.

He told the court in the southern German city of Munich that Zschäpe had asked him to read out her statement, but he requested that any questions by the court afterwards be given in writing. The answers would also be given in writing after consultation with his client over the weekend, he said.

Judge Manfred Götzl has not indicated whether he will accept the demand. Until now, the judge has only posed oral questions to the accused and witnesses.

Long silence

Zschäpe has so far declined to make any statement herself during the two and a half year trial, and media reports early on Tuesday had cast doubt on whether her state of health would allow even the planned reading out of her testimony to go ahead as announced.

But Grasel denied reports that Zschäpe had had a nervous breakdown, and Götzl said she had replied to his question about her state of health with "Good."

Zschäpe is accused of involvement in a series of murders, bomb attacks, robberies and assaults allegedly committed by the NSU over a decade. Two other members of the terror cell, Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, died in 2011 in a murder-suicide.

Ten people died in the murders. Most of the victims had a migrant background, leading to prosecutors suspecting a racist motive behind the killings.

In addition to Zschäpe, four people alleged to have aided the NSU are also on trial in Munich. Lawyers for one of them, Ralf Wohlleben, announced on Tuesday that their client would also soon deliver a statement, but did not give a date, saying only that it would not be this week.

tj/jil (dpa, AFP)