NSU-Watch: “This verdict is a slap in the face for the survivors of NSU terrorism and the victims’ families.” – Press release, 11 July 2018


The anti-fascist initiative NSU Watch is greatly critical of the senate’s decision in the first trial against the National Socialist Underground (NSU). „This verdict is a slap in the face for the survivors of NSU terrorism and the victims’ families,” says Caro Keller of NSU Watch. The short sentences passed by Chief Justice Götzl against the defendants André Eminger, Ralf Wohlleben and Holger Gerlach were far below the demands of the Federal Prosecution.

“This decision and the court opinion are an open invitation to the terrorist neo-Nazi scene. They can just pick up where the NSU left off in 2011 and have no real punishment to fear,” Keller continues and emphasizes that the lenient sentences against Ralf Wohlleben and André Eminger show that “the court is downplaying the crimes of these two hardcore neo-Nazis, who aided and abetted the NSU and flaunted their ideology in court, as friendly favors devoid of any politics.”

Today, on 11 July 2018, the Senate of the Higher Regional Court of Munich passed its verdict in the first NSU trial. The principal defendant, Beate Zschäpe, received a life sentence with “particular gravity”, which means that the sentence cannot be suspended after 15 years. Ralf Wohlleben received only 10 years for nine counts of aiding and abetting murder. Carsten S. was sentenced for the same crime, but received only three years under juvenile law. Holger Gerlach received only three years for supporting a terrorist organization, while André Eminger received only two years and six months for the same crime. Eminger was cleared of the charge of aiding and abetting attempted murder during a bomb attack on a grocery store at Probsteigasse, Cologne.

The high sentence for Beate Zschäpe was expected and is a good sign, but by letting off her supporters, the senate denies any existence of a larger network. The senate thereby sustains the legend of an isolated trio, which has long been disproved in the main hearings and by the inquiry committees in the Bundestag and the federal states of Thuringia and Saxony. “The court is desperately maintaining that the NSU is a thing of the past, that right-wing terrorism no longer exists. The results of the main hearings, the inquiry committees, and our own research show that the NSU is a network, it still exists, and it was not a group of three loners. We will persist until the families, the public, and we all know the identities of all the NSU supporters, and until they’ve been held accountable. We want justice,” announced the NSU Watch initiative.

A good dozen of organized neo-Nazis watched from the benches as the court pronounced the verdict. This is a clear signal that the neo-Nazi scene still considers the NSU as part of its militant wing. As these neo-Nazis loudly applauded the weak sentence against Eminger, the judge saw no need to intervene. “If convicted supporters of a neo-Nazi terrorist group have hardly any punishment to expect, what is there to keep right-wing offenders from going out and supporting the next terrorist group? We fear that many neo-Nazis and organized racists see this judgement as a call to emulate Eminger, Wohlleben and the others,” says Keller of NSU Watch.

Keller continues that, considering the current social situation, this decision also shows that “victims of racist terrorism have no justice to expect in this country.” In the preceding days, victims’ families and survivors had already made clear that they cared about knowing the full truth and not the length of particular sentences. “Once more, we’ve all had to realize how empty these truth-finding promises are and see our hopes for this trial disappointed. We have been and will continue seeking the truth on our own. Maybe we’ll never know everything about the NSU complex, but we’ll do our best to fill the gaps. Our case is not closed!”

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