Neo-Nazi woman sentenced to life in prison for German race murders

Defendant Beate Zschaepe during her trial in a courtroom in Munich southern Germany

While the Munich trial has focused on the NSU "trio", the chairman of the last parliamentary inquest, Uli Groetsch, said it was clear that the three were "supported by a broad network of neo-Nazis".

German authorities blame the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Underground for a string of violent crimes including the racially motivated killing of nine men, the killing of a policewoman, two bombings and more than a dozen bank robberies over a period of nearly 14 years.

The NSU operated in secret for nearly 14 years before two of its three core members died in an apparent murder-suicide in 2011. The case has gained additional significance with the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany party in recent years.

Judges on Wednesday sentenced Beate Zschaepe to life in prison.

The court sentenced chief suspect Beate Zschaepe to life in prison, which is normally 15 years in Germany, and other four suspects were given light sentences.

Zschaepe also says she no longer believes the far-right views she once held and expressed regret toward the victims' families for their losses.

Munich's Higher Regional Court announced on Wednesday its long awaited verdict on the killing of eight Turkish immigrants, a Greek citizen, and a German policewoman by the far-right terrorist group the National Socialist Underground (NSU).

Still, Barbara John, the government's ombudswoman for the victims' families, said many in Germany don't want to know the details of the case.

"The awful acts could have been avoided", John told The Associated Press, "if the relevant authorities had assessed the crimes better and with less prejudice".

Although no evidence was found proving that Zschaepe had been physically present during the robberies and attacks, Goetzl said her contribution to the trio's crimes during its 14 years on the run was "essential".

Defendant Beate Zschaepe, co-defendants and legal teams wait at Oberlandesgericht courthouse on the day judges are to announce their verdict in the marathon NSU neo-Nazi murder trial on July 11, 2018 in Munich, Germany.

Although the apartment was badly damaged in the fire, police found a DVD that played off the Pink Panther cartoon, showing the attack sites and gory photos of victims.

On the eve of the verdict, Abdulkerim Simsek, son of the first NSU murder victim Enver Simsek, said: "I'm 100 percent sure that there are still accomplices out there".

"Now there's a big hole inside of me", she said. Abdulkerim Simsek, son of Enver Simsek, who was shot on September 9, 2000 and died two days later, asked at a news conference on Tuesday.

"Why did the killers choose my father", Simsek said.

But officials insisted that they had no prior information about the NSU cell and its suspected role in the killings.

Zschaepe has been on trial since 2013 and spoke only twice during her five years in court according to NBC News.

In one case, an employee of the country's domestic intelligence agency was inside an internet cafe when the owner was gunned down, but claimed not to have seen or heard anything problematic.

Eminger, who provided the National Socialist Underground with numerous identity documents and hired mobile homes they used to travel the country and commit their crimes, grinned at his supporters.

In 2012, Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged that Germany would "do everything we can to clear up the murders".

The NSU attacks were the most violent by a guerrilla group in Germany since the end of the far-left Red Army Faction's two-decade spree in 1991, in which 34 people are estimated to have been killed.

Sebastian Scharmer, a lawyer for the Kubasik family, accused federal prosecutors of dragging their feet in the investigation, thereby allowing "crude conspiracy theories" to flourish. "They have done nothing to relieve our pain", he said.

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