Friday 21 September 2018
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Surviving member of German neo-Nazi murder cell jailed for life

12 July 2018: The only surviving member of a German neo-Nazi cell behind a shocking series of racist murders was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison, capping one of the longest and politically charged trials of the post-war period.

Beate Zschaepe, 43, was found guilty of 10 counts of murder for her complicity in the deadly shootings of nine Turkish and Greek-born immigrants and a German policewoman.

Zschaepe and her former lovers Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt had formed a militant clandestine group they called the National Socialist Underground (NSU).

The trio carried out the killings from 2000 and 2007, as well as two bombings and 15 bank robberies, before the two men died in an apparent suicide pact after a bungled bank heist in 2011.

The scope of the NSU s crimes only came to light after the men s deaths, when Zschaepe released a macabre confession video set to a Pink Panther cartoon theme.

Germany, which has long struggled to atone for its Nazi past, was shocked to learn that the series of killings, previously blamed by police on immigrant crime gangs, had in fact been committed by organised fascists from the country s formerly communist east.

Judge Manfred Goetzl handed down the highest sentence citing the exceptional severity of the crime, meaning Zschaepe could stay behind bars beyond Germany s regular maximum 15-year prison term.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter that the ruling meant Germany was standing up to racist violence with the strength of the law, and added that the victims remain unforgotten .

- Accomplices still out there -

The mammoth trial had run since May 2013 and heard 800 witnesses and experts. Critics said many questions remain unanswered, including how the killers stayed undetected for so long and whether some undercover state informants knew of the NSU s existence.

Turkey s foreign ministry said the ruling unfortunately has not revealed

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