A look at the 5 defendants in Germany’s neo-Nazi trial
MUNICH (AP) — Five people have been on trial in Germany since March 2013 for participating in or supporting the crimes of the National Socialist Underground, a neo-Nazi group suspected of carrying out the biggest killing spree targeting migrants in post-war European history.
Here is a look at the defendants:
Zschaepe, 43, went on the run with Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt in 1998. The two men were found dead after an apparent murder-suicide in 2011, making her the only surviving core member of the group, known by the acronym NSU.
Prosecutors accuse her of complicity in the killing of nine men, eight of Turkish origin and one of Greek, and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007. She is also accused of participation in two bomb attacks and more than a dozen bank robberies, helping found a terrorist organization and of attempted murder when she set fire to the group’s hideout after its existence came to light.
She has denied any involvement in murder, though admitted other accusations.
Although there is no evidence she was present when any of the killings, bombings or robberies happened, prosecutors argue that her support for the men during their 14 years underground make her fully culpable of all of their crimes. Her lawyers have sought to paint a picture of Zschaepe as a naive woman enthralled with two violent men.
After remaining silent for much of the trial, Zschaepe used her closing statement last week to distance herself from “elements of nationalist ideology” she once believed in and to express regret for the victims’ families’ loss. She urged the court not to convict her “for something that I neither wanted nor did.”
If convicted, Zschaepe faces life in prison.
Wohlleben, 43, is accused of accessory to murder in the killing of the nine male victims. Prosecutors allege that he was instrumental in supplying the trio with a Ceska handgun and silencer and knew they planned to use it for the killings.
Wohlleben was once a member of the far-right National Democratic Party. If convicted, he could face a 12-year sentence.
Schultze, 38, is also accused of being an accessory to murder in the killing of the nine men. Prosecutors allege he physically handed the Ceska to Mundlos and Boehnhardt.
Of all the defendants, Schultze provided the most comprehensive testimony to investigators and expressed remorse for his actions during the trial.
Eminger, 38, is a committed national socialist, according to his lawyer. Prosecutors consider Eminger to be one of the closest contacts the trio had during their time on the run, saying he rented an apartment and mobile homes used by the NSU to travel around Germany.
He is accused of being an accessory in two of the bank robberies and in the 2001 bomb attack in Cologne. He is also accused of two counts of supporting a terrorist organization. He remained silent throughout the trial.
Gerlach, 44, is accused of three counts of supporting a terrorist organization.
Prosecutors say he provided the group with a firearm and forged identity papers.