Surviving member of German neo-Nazi murder cell, Beate Zschaepe, gets life in prison
A German court on July 11 sentenced defendant Beate Zschaepe to life in prison, finding her guilty on 10 counts of murder as part of a neo-Nazi gang and handing her the longest possible sentence.
The court found Zschaepe was part of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), whose members killed eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman over seven years from 2000.
The neo-Nazi group NSU was formed by three right-wing extremists — Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Bohnhardt and Zschaepe — who were on the run and have lived under fake identities since 1998.
The German public first learned about the existence of the NSU in November 2011, when two members of the group reportedly died in a murder-suicide following an unsuccessful bank robbery.
Zschaepe, 43, the sole survivor of the terrorist cell, has been on trial since 2013, but so far has denied any role in the killings and tried to lay the blame on her two male accomplices Mundlos and Bohnhardt.
Until 2011, Germany’s police and intelligence services excluded any racial motive for the murders and instead treated immigrant families as suspects in the case, questioning them over alleged connections with mafia groups and drug traffickers.
However, recent revelations have shown that German domestic intelligence agency BfV had dozens of informants who had contacts with the NSU suspects since the late 90s, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
But officials insisted that they had no prior information about the NSU cell and its suspected role in the killings.
Many questions related to the murders were still unresolved, as dozens of secret files belonging to the domestic intelligence service had been destroyed, soon after the death of two leading members of the group in 2011.