Trial of Beate Zschäpe

The trial of Beate Zschäpe will begin April 17, 2013 and the courtroom has space for 50 journalists and 50 members of the public. Zschäpe will obviously receive a life sentence, though it remains to be seen what will happen to 4 other people (Ralf Wohlleben, Carsten S, Holger G and Andre E) who face charges for having helped the resistance cell she belonged to. The big unknowns are whether Zschäpe will make a political statement, and how severely the other accomplices will be punished, assuming their guilt can be proven.

Another issue is whether she will spend her life sentence in complete isolation with minimal comforts, like Anders Behring Breivik, which is beyond doubt intended as a deterrent for other resistance fighters. It’s technically a violation of human rights, but public opinion does appear to favor prolonged low intensity torture for political prisoners, though it remains to be seen if they will accept this treatment for non militants. A hunger strike would be ineffective as German authorities are allowed to force-feed prisoners, though the process of force feeding is extremely stressful on everyone involved making it one of the few psychological weapons available to prisoners being maltreated. Based on early reports it’s unlikely Zschäpe will be allowed to communicate with supporters.

So far it appears Zschäpe has remained completely silent, which is a good strategy as she might incriminate others if she starts talking. Any successful form of resistance requires that ratting out your own kind is considered the worst possible offense. Europeans will have to learn this fast, or perish.

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