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Woman denies she was involved in neo-Nazi killing spree

She says the murders were carried out by two men she considered “family”.

Image: Kerstin Joensson

THE MAIN DEFENDANT in a German neo-Nazi terrorism and murder trial denied she was involved in a killing spree targeting migrants that claimed 10 lives, and apologised to the bereaved families.

Beate Zschaepe, 40, breaking her silence after some 250 days in the dock, described herself in a statement as a passive, innocent and horrified bystander to the crimes of the self-styled National Socialist Underground (NSU).

Zschaepe for years lived in hiding with neo-Nazis Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, who shot dead eight men with Turkish roots, a Greek migrant and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007, before they died in an apparent murder-suicide in 2011.

After the men’s deaths, Germany was shocked to discover that the killings – long blamed by police and media on migrant crime gangs and dubbed the “doner (kebab) murders” – were in fact committed by a far-right cell with xenophobic motives.

Prosecutors charge that Zschaepe was an NSU member and aided the crimes, also including two bomb attacks and 15 bank robberies, by covering the men’s tracks, handling finances and providing a safe retreat in their shared home.

But Zschaepe, who faces a maximum sentence of life in jail, insisted she was involved “neither in the planning nor the execution” of any crimes, and that she was “horrified” to learn about them afterwards.

She said she did not share the men’s racist motivation, adding: “I reject the accusation of having been a member of a terrorist organisation called NSU”.

They were ‘family’

In her deposition, Zschaepe insisted she had stayed with Mundlos and Boehnhardt because she feared going to jail. She also argued she was financially and emotionally dependent on the men, who had threatened suicide if she went to the police.

“I remember pleading with them for hours to stop the killings,” she said in the 53-page statement read out by attorney Mathias Grasel.

“Mantra-like I received the answer that it wouldn’t happen again. They didn’t keep their word.

“I realised that I was living with two people who did not value human life.”

Yet, “the two were my family,” she said, describing their shared teenage days in the neo-Nazi scene of their post-reunification east German home town.

Later she resigned herself to her fate, she claimed.

“I distracted myself with computer games and drank more and more sparkling wine, three or four bottles a day,” she said, adding that she increasingly “neglected the cats”.

“I feel morally guilty that I could not prevent 10 murders and two bomb attacks,” she said, while denying legal responsibility.

Relatives of the victims reacted with incredulity and anger.

“I don’t believe a single word,” said Gamze Kubasik, daughter of shop owner Mehmet Kubasik who was shot dead in 2006, while lawyer Mehmet Daimaguler called the testimony “a pack of lies”.

- © AFP 2015

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