MUNICH (AP) — Five people have been convicted as part of a trial that began in May 2013 over their involvement with the National Socialist Underground, a neo-Nazi group that carried out the biggest killing spree targeting migrants in Germany since World War II.
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.
The Munich regional court convicted her of 10 counts of murder for her role in the killing of nine men — eight of Turkish origin and one of Greek — and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007. She was also found guilty of membership in a terrorist organization — the NSU — of participating in two bomb attacks and more than a dozen bank robberies, and of attempted murder when she set fire to the group’s hideout after its existence came to light.
The court sentenced her to life in prison and determined that her guilt weighed particularly heavily, meaning that under German law she is likely to serve more than the customary 15-year life sentence.
Zschaepe had denied any involvement in murder.
Although there was no evidence she was present when any of the killings, bombings or robberies happened, prosecutors argued that her support for the men during their 14 years underground make her fully culpable of all of their crimes. Her lawyers sought to paint a picture of Zschaepe as a naive woman enthralled with two violent men.
Zschaepe showed no emotion as the verdict was read. A week earlier she had used her closing statement to distance herself from “elements of nationalist ideology” she once believed in and to express regret for the victims’ families’ loss, urging the court not to convict her “for something that I neither wanted nor did.”
Her lawyers plan to challenge the verdict.
Wohlleben, 43, was found guilty of accessory to murder in the killing of the nine male victims. Prosecutors alleged he was instrumental in supplying the trio with a Ceska 83 handgun and silencer and knew they planned to use it for the killings. He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, less than the 12 years prosecutors had asked for.
Wohlleben, who was once a member of the far-right National Democratic Party, has served much of his sentence while awaiting trial.
Schultze, 38, was also found guilty of accessory to murder in the killing of the nine men. Prosecutors alleged 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.
He was sentenced to three years of youth detention, based on the fact that he was under 21 at the time of his crimes.
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. He rented an apartment and mobile homes used by the NSU to travel around Germany, though the court said it couldn’t be proved he knew of the planned crimes.
Eminger was convicted of supporting a terrorist organization and sentenced to 2½ years in prison, part of which he has already served while awaiting trial. His sentence was lower than expected, prompting applause from far-right supporters among the courtroom audience and grins from Eminger.
Gerlach, 44, was convicted of three counts of supporting a terrorist organization for providing the group with a firearm and forged identity papers while they were on the run. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
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