German court delays neo-Nazi trial

Beate Zschaepe due to be tried over complicity in 10 racist murders

German police carry barriers in front of the Munich regional court where the trial of  Beate Zschaepe, a member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) is due to take place this week. Photograph: Michael Dalder/Reuters

German police carry barriers in front of the Munich regional court where the trial of Beate Zschaepe, a member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) is due to take place this week. Photograph: Michael Dalder/Reuters

 

A Munich court said today it would postpone the start of the trial of a suspected neo-Nazi until May after Germany's Constitutional Court ruled that it must provide better access to foreign media.

The trial of Beate Zschaepe over complicity in 10 racist murders had been due to start on Wednesday. The court had allocated 50 seats to all media on a first-come-first-served basis, but none went to Turkish journalists, despite the fact that 8 of the victims were ethnic Turks.

The others, targeted by what authorities identified as an underground neo-Nazi cell known as the National Socialist Underground, were a Greek man and a German policewoman.

This prompted a Turkish newspaper to lodge a complaint which the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe upheld. "In view of the Constitutional Court ruling... a new accreditation process is necessary," the Munich court said in a statement, adding that it could not complete this process before April 17th.

Beate Zschaepe, a 38-year-old member of the cell, was to appear in court this week alongside four other NSU supporters for the first time. The court's security protocol and media attention were reminiscent of the 1970s trials against the Red Army Faction terrorist group in Germany.

The crime spree came to light in November 2011 after Zschaepe's companions, Uwe Boehnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, took their own lives in a camper van in eastern Germany. The inquiry into this led to the discovery of the NSU, prompting investigators and politicians to ask how a right-wing terror cell could have operated underground for over a decade.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called the events, which led to a parliamentary investigation and scrutiny over Germany's patchwork of state-led counterintelligence bodies, a "disgrace for Germany" in November 2011.

Agencies