A member of a German neo-Nazi gang was jailed for life yesterday for her part in the murders of 10 people during a seven-year campaign of racially motivated violence.
Beate Zschaepe (43) showed no reaction as the judge read out her sentence at the end of one of the most closely watched court cases in Germany’s post-war history.
She was part of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), whose members killed eight Turks, a Greek man and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007, the Higher Regional Court in Munich ruled.
A report later said police had “massively underestimated” the risk of far-right violence and that missteps had allowed the cell to go undetected.
The judges said Zschaepe bore “particularly heavy guilt” .
She had denied any knowledge of the murders during the five-year trial. But she said later she regretted not stopping two male members of the gang, Uwe Boehnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, from carrying out the killings.
Those men killed themselves in 2011 when police discovered the gang by chance.
Prosecutors said she had played a key role behind the scenes, planning the crimes and arranging money and alibis.
“This is a just punishment for the NSU’s cold-blooded and unprecedented series of crimes,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said.
Five of the 10 murders took place in Bavaria, the most violent attacks of their kind in Germany since the far-left Red Army Faction’s two-decade killing spree that ended in 1991 and left at least 34 dead.
Zschaepe was also found guilty of membership of a terrorist organisation, of being co-perpetrator in two bombings, and of arson.
Four men were also found guilty of supporting the NSU in various ways, including procuring weapons, and handed sentences from two and a half to 10 years.
Zschaepe’s lawyer, Mathias Grasel, said he would appeal.