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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

German neo-Nazi found guilty of 10 murders

The trial of Beate Zschaepe has been one of the longest-running in German history

 Defendant Beate Zschaepe arrives at the NSU trial at the higher regional court in Munich, Germany, on July 11, 2018. EPA
 Defendant Beate Zschaepe arrives at the NSU trial at the higher regional court in Munich, Germany, on July 11, 2018. EPA

A German woman has been found guilty of involvement in 10 neo-Nazi murders, bringing to a close one of the longest running trials in the country's history.

Beate Zschaepe was convicted of a litany of crimes including murder, membership of a terrorist organisation, bomb attacks and robberies.

She showed no emotion as the verdict was read out.

Zschaepe was arrested in 2011, after two accomplices were found dead following an apparent murder suicide.

The 43-year-old had been a member of a group known as National Socialist Underground (NSU), an organisation that Germany’s Attorney General described as a "right-wing extremist group whose purpose was to kill foreigners, and citizens of foreign origin".

The group carried out 10 killings, including eight ethnic Turks, a Greek, and a woman police officer, between 2000 and 2007.

It managed to evade capture for more than a decade thanks to a number of police mishaps and a network of supporters across Germany.

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Prosecutors said they hoped the conviction would send a message to security services, who for a number of years refused to acknowledge the possibility of far-right motivation behind the attacks.

Alexander Hoffman, one of the lawyers representing victims, said: “The investigation went in the wrong direction, not due to the failure of individuals but due to institutional racism.”

Judge Manfred Goetzl told the court that Zschaepe was likely to serve at least 15 years.

Several right-wing supporters of Zschaepe cheered as a lesser sentence was handed down to one of her co-accused, Andre Eminger.

Zschaepe's defence sought to portray her as a naive, fringe member of the group. She acknowledged being "morally guilty", but asked to be spared conviction “for something that I neither wanted nor did”.

Despite her proclaimed regret, she repeatedly refused to answer questions from the lawyers of the victims' families over the course of the five-year trial.

The NSU has taken a cult role in popular German culture, serving as the inspiration for a number of books, an award-winning film and a Netflix series.

Last year, the far right Afd party won 94 seats in the country’s federal elections, marking the first time a far-right party had held seats in Germany’s Bundestag since the Second World War.