Courts finds suspect in neo-Nazi trial guilty of 10 killings

Court Watch

A German court on Wednesday found the main defendant in a high-profile neo-Nazi trial guilty over the killing of 10 people - most of them migrants - who were gunned down between 2000 and 2007 in a case that shocked Germany and prompted accusations of institutional racism in the country's security agencies.

Judges sentenced Beate Zschaepe to life in prison for murder, membership of a terrorist organization, bomb attacks that injured dozens and several lesser crimes including a string of robberies. Four men were found guilty of supporting the group in various ways and sentenced to prison terms of between 2½ and 10 years.

Presiding judge Manfred Goetzl told a packed Munich courtroom that Zschaepe's guilt weighed particularly heavily, meaning she is likely to serve at least a 15-year sentence. Her lawyers plan to appeal the verdict.

The 43-year-old showed no emotion as Goetzl read out her sentence. A number of far-right activists attending the trial clapped when one the co-accused, Andre Eminger, received a lower sentence than expected.

Zschaepe was arrested in 2011, shortly after her two accomplices were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide. Together with the men, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, she had formed the National Socialist Underground, a group that pursued an ideology of white racial supremacy by targeting migrants, mostly of Turkish origin.

Goetzl said the trio agreed in late 1998 to kill people "for anti-Semitic or other racist motivations" in order to intimidate ethnic minorities and portray the state as impotent.

They planned to wait until they had committed a series of killings before revealing their responsibility, in order to increase the public impact of their crimes.

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