After a five-year trial, a member of a neo-Nazi gang has been found guilty of 10 racially-motivated murders.
Beate Zschäpe was the main defendant on trial over the murder of eight ethnic Turks, a Greek citizen and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007.
The verdict carries an automatic life sentence.
The connection between the murders was only discovered by chance in 2011, after a botched robbery led to the neo-Nazi group’s discovery.
Zschäpe shared a flat in the eastern town of Zwickau with two men, who died in an apparent suicide pact. The bodies of Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt were found in a burnt-out caravan used in the robbery.
Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt had formed a cell called the National Socialist Underground (NSU). An explosion at their home – apparently in an attempt to destroy evidence – led to Zschäpe turning herself in.
The NSU’s seven-year campaign exposed serious shortcomings in the German state’s monitoring of neo-Nazis, and led to a public inquiry into how German police failed to discover the murder plot.
Four other defendants were also given jail terms for their role in helping the NSU gang:
- Ralf Wohlleben, a former official of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), was sentenced to 10 years for procuring the Ceska pistol with silencer used in nine murders. He was convicted of aiding and abetting murder.
- Carsten S was given three years of juvenile detention. He is believed to have been a key contact for the Zwickau cell during their secret life, and was found guilty of handing the gang the Ceska pistol and silencer
- André E was given two years and six months for helping a terrorist group. He had visited the Zwickau trio often, sometimes with his children, helping to give the neo-Nazis an air of normality.
- Holger G received three years for giving his birth certificate and other ID to Uwe Mundlos, to protect him from the police.