Europe

Neo-Nazi murders: Prosecutors want Zschäpe to serve life

Defendant Beate Zschaepe waits for the continuation of her trial at the higher regional court (Oberlandesgericht, OLG) in Munich, Germany, 12 September 2017. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Beate Zschaepe is on trial in Munich, and denies involvement in 10 murders

A German prosecutor has demanded a life sentence for Beate Zschäpe, the main surviving member of a neo-Nazi gang accused of murdering 10 people.

Police say Ms Zschäpe was part of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) group, which killed eight Turks, a Greek, and a German policewoman.

The murders took place across several regions from 2000 to 2007 but the cell went undetected for four more years.

Ms Zschäpe, 42, denies complicity in the killings.

However, she has alleged through her lawyer that she feels guilty for not deterring two male friends from taking part.

The pair - Uwe Mundlos, and Uwe Böhnhardt - killed themselves in 2011 after a botched robbery.

Ms Zschäpe had lived in hiding with them for years in a flat and gave herself up after setting fire to the apartment. The role of the neo-Nazi gang in the 10 murders then emerged in a macabre video gloating over the killings.

The case has produced one of Germany's most high-profile trials, which is now coming to a close after four years.

Federal prosecutor Herbert Diemer told a Munich court that Beate Zschäpe was complicit in all 10 murders, as well as arson, two bomb attacks in Cologne and 15 robberies.

He said she was an "ice-cold, calculating" person who had sought to stoke fear among migrants living in Germany through random murders, and acted as "a key member" of the gang.

Image copyright German police handout
Image caption German Police pictures show eight of the gang's alleged victims (top, L-R) Enver Simsek, Abdurrahim Ozudogru, Suleyman Taskopru and Habil Kilic and (bottom, L-R) Yunus Turgut, Ismail Yasar, Theodorus Boulgarides and Mehmet Kubasik

The prosecution has applied to have Ms Zschäpe imprisoned under a public protection order, which would keep her behind bars as long as she is considered a danger to society.

Four men are on trial alongside Ms Zschäpe, facing lesser charges of having helped the NSU.

There was shock and controversy across Germany when police unearthed the far-right group, as the authorities had wrongly blamed the Turkish mafia for the murders.

Some of the victims' families had previously been treated as suspects.

The head of the country's domestic intelligence service was eventually forced to resign over the scandal.

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