One of the sole surviving members of a German neo-Nazi network was found guilty Wednesday of 10 counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Beate Zschaepe, 43, was a member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a right-wing terror group responsible for the murders of eight ethnic Turks and one Greek citizen (known as the Ceska murders) and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007, as well as two bombings in the city of Cologne and 15 bank robberies.
The verdict was announced at a court in Munich in Bavaria, southern Germany, where Judge Manfred Goetzl noted the “particular severity” of Zschaepe’s guilt as he handed down the sentence.
Zschaepe was convicted on all charges, including the 10 murders, 32 counts of attempted murder related to the Cologne bombings, robberies and membership of a terrorist group, according to the verdict. The defendant was driven by a clear ideology and her crimes were “politically motivated,” the judgment reads.
The trial was one of the longest in German history, lasting more than five years, and one of the most scandalous, as evidence emerged that police had failed to investigate right-wing motives in several of the murder cases. The revelations led to an inquiry into how police had neglected to follow key leads.
It was only after two members of the NSU — Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt — died following a botched bank robbery in an apparent suicide pact and left behind a video confessing their crimes that police began investigating the group in connection with the murders.