German prosecutors say co-defendants helped neo-Nazi trial suspect

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MUNICH (Reuters) – Germany’s federal prosecutor said on Monday that two men suspected of being accomplices to Beate Zschaepe, the main surviving suspect in a neo-Nazi trial for 10 murders, had procured the gun used in a spate of racial killings.

Prosecutors say Zschaepe was part of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) group that killed eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007. She denies taking part in the murders which have led to one of the most closely watched trials in post-war Germany.

In his closing arguments at a trial which has lasted more than four years, public prosecutor Jochen Weingarten said Ralf Wohlleben – once an official at the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) – and Carsten S. had procured the NSU’s main murder weapon.

Weingarten said the men had therefore aided and abetted the murder of nine people of foreign origin.

Wohlleben, who is named because he was a prominent member of the NPD, denies that. Carsten S., whose name is abbreviated in Germany to protect his identity, is the only one of the five accused in the trial who have made a comprehensive confession.

The federal prosecutor said Zschaepe’s friends Uwe Boehnhardt and Uwe Mundlos had fired the shots. Boehnhardt and Mundlos killed themselves in 2011 when police discovered the gang by chance.

Zschaepe did not take part in the shootings but, as a “co-founder, member and accomplice” of the NSU, bears full responsibility, the federal prosecutor said last week.

The closing arguments of the prosecutors, joint plaintiffs and defendants are expected to end only after the summer recess, meaning a verdict would likely come in autumn at earliest.

If found guilty, some of the accused could face life imprisonment.

Writing by Michelle Martin; editing by Erik Kirschbaum