Update on the NSU

The NSU trial is the trial to assess the guilt of Beate Zschäpe and the four possible accomplices of the NSU.

The NSU, the National Socialist Underground, was a militant resistance organisation involved in a total of 10 killings (9 Muslims and a female police officer), 15 robberies and two bomb attacks. These incidents took place between 1999 and 2011. The two main perpetrators, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, have committed suicide on November 4, 2011 after being chased by the police following a failed robbery. Zschäpe was intimately acquainted with these two men and provided a face to the outside world. Zschäpe also burnt down the NSU’s last residence to destroy evidence and spread a confession DVD to claim the various executions as acts of the NSU.

The court holds that Zschäpe was an accomplice in the incidents of the NSU and that she is also guilty of aggravated arson. Zschäpe’s fellow accused are André Eminger, Carsten Schultz, Holger Gerlach, and Ralf Wohlleben. The court accuses them of having supplied and arranged shelter, firearms, false documents and services to edit the confession DVD.

The trial started on 6 May 2013 in Room A101 before the State Security Division of the Higher Regional Court of Munich’s Nymphenburg road. Ten court days have taken place so far.

The trial has begun chaotically, with several pleas by the defense and prosecution about the setup of the trial. The concerns included:

  • Bias, both personal bias and smear campaigns by the media that may influence witnesses
  • The possible separation of the trial into general proceedings and a spin-off trial to cover a nail bomb attack in Cologne in 2004.

After the fourth trial day, the court took a two-week break to decide on the various requests and pleas by lawyers. It was finally decided that the trial would be held including the nail bomb attack, and in its planned 85 sessions until January 2014.

The actual proceedings could resume on the 4th of June. Carsten Schultz was the first of the accused to make his statement and has taken questions from the court players starting June 12th. Schultz was 19 at the time of his involvement in the right-wing scene, and was asked by Ralf Wohlleben to deliver the pistol Ceska 83 which Böhnhardt and Mundlos used most in the ten killings. Schultz’s psychiatrist claims Schultz was emotionally a minor at the time of the crime, and the accused himself denies ideological affiliation with NS – he’s a homosexual and his uniform fetish drew him to the scene.

The second accused to have spoken out is Holger Gerlach, who has supplied the NSU with false documents and rented living quarters for them. Gerlach claims to not have known of the NSU’s executions until he withdrew from the right-wing scene, and has apologized for his deeds to the court and victims’ families.

Ralf Wohlleben has been asked to testify as well, though it is unclear whether he will do so or not.

So far Zschäpe has remained silent. While there’s no hard evidence there’s enough circumstantial evidence to convict her for life. Harsh punishments for those who are suspected of aiding the NSU can be expected.

Transcripts and additional information is available on the NSU archive.

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