By Birger Menke and Sven Röbel
The Higher Regional Court in Munich has approved the prosecution's charges against Beate Zschäpe, a suspected member the National Socialist Underground terror cell, along with four presumed accomplices in what is expected to be one of the most closely monitored trials in recent German history.
A spokesperson for the Higher Regional Court in Munich told SPIEGEL ONLINE that the defense lawyers have yet to be notified of the decision and that no comment would be made until that time.
The office of the German Federal Public Prosecutor also refused to comment before the defense had been informed, instead referring queries to the Higher Regional Court.
Almost 500 pages long, the bill of indictment signed by Chief Federal Prosecutor Harald Range charges Zschäpe with being an accessory to the murders and bomb attacks carried out by the NSU terror call, as well as arson, founding a terrorist organization and facilitating robbery. In a seven-year killing spree that began in 2000, the NSU claimed responsibility for murdering at least nine men of Turkish and Greek origin as well as a policewoman.
Trial Expected in Spring
Formally accused along with Zschäpe is Ralf Wohlleben, a long-standing official in the far-right extremist National Democratic Party (NPD) who is believed to have played a key role in acquiring the cell's murder weapons. Also in the dock will be Holger G., believed to have provided the members of the cell with identity papers, as well as Carsten S., who admitted to supplying the Ceska-brand pistol used as a murder weapon. The fifth defendant is André E. of Zwickau, who is accused of having organized apartments and vans that federal prosecutors believe the cell used in robberies and a bomb attack in Cologne.
The trial is expected to open this spring.
Prosecutors believe that Zschäpe was an accomplice to the string of murders committed by her alleged colleagues in the terror cell -- Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, who committed suicide as police closed in on their trail -- and that she holds equal responsibility. But to back that suspicion, they will have to prove that the defendent had been aware of each individual murder.
So far, Zschäpe has remained silent about her alleged involvement in the crimes. But she has left open the possibility that she may ultimately speak. During an interrogation with an investigating judge, she is reported to have said that she "didn't turn herself in to not testify."
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