German Neo-Nazi Woman Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murdering Immigrants
A German court on Wednesday sentenced the last surviving member of a neo-Nazi gang to life in prison for murdering 10 people between 2000 and 2007.
Judges also sentenced Beate Zschaepe with the responsibility of bomb attacks, membership of a terrorist organization, and a string of other robberies in one of Germany’s longest trials.
Four men were also found guilty of supporting the neo-Nazi group and sentenced to prison terms varying from two and a half and 10 years, according to The Associated Press.
Zschaepe had formed the National Socialist Underground (NSU) in the 90s with Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, creating a group that prided itself on white supremacy and sought out the murder of immigrants, specifically Turkish nationals.
Zschaepe was arrested in 2011 after her two accomplices, Mundlos and Boehnhardt, were found dead in a murder-suicide after a botched robbery. Investigators believe Mundlos shot Boehnhardt before killing himself.
Being the only surviving member, Zschaepe attempted to burn all evidence of the robbery and other crimes by setting fire to her apartment, turning herself in days later.
After the murder weapon was found as well as other salvaged objects linking the NSU to multiple crimes, the German public now knew that a neo-Nazi terrorist group had operated freely in Germany for more than 11 years, unbeknownst to German police.
Presiding judge Manfred Goetzl claims the group had agreed in 1998 to kill people “for anti-Semitic or other racist motivations” in an effort to intimidate ethnic minorities, and that they decided to wait until after killing multiple people to reveal their motive in order to maximize their public impact.
Eight of the 10 people Zschaepe and the NSU killed were Turkish immigrants, and the others were a Greek citizen and a policewoman. (RELATED: German Designer Blames Merkel For All The Muslims And Nazis, Threatens To Leave)
Zschaepe, 43, showed no emotion at the trial, and several far-right activists clapped when another accused NSU supporter, Andre Eminger, received a lower sentence than expected, the AP reported.
The NSU evaded arrest for nearly 14 years due a network of support, like the men sentenced Wednesday, as well as repeated failures of German security agencies.
Lawyers in the case sought to portray Zschaepe as a naive, weak woman who was essentially controlled by her male accomplices, Mundlos and Boehnhardt, but the judges finally found her equally culpable for the killings, bombings and robberies. She had spoken twice during the five-year trial, the BBC reported.
Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer was pleased with the verdict. “[T]he crimes should be a lesson and a task for us to fight far right extremism in Germany,” he said, according to the AP.
Barbara John, the government’s spokeswoman for the victims’ families, urged the government and its politicians to continue investigating the failures of Germany’s institutions that led to this case, and hopes the verdict sends a signal to other extremist groups in Germany.
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