Second defendant starts testimony in Germany’s neo-Nazi trial

Beate Zschaepe

The second of the five defendants began testimony Thursday at Germany’s landmark trial over racially inspired murders – the work, according to prosecutors, of a trio of neo-Nazis.

Holger G, who is alleged to have aided the killer cell by lending it his identity documents, was to read out his own statement about the crime spree, but would not answer any questions about it, his lawyer announced as the hearing began.

At the start of the day, the judge asked Holger G standard questions about his vital data and family background. His surname has been withheld under privacy guidelines for the media.

The trial in Munich began May 6, but testimony on the origins of the self-styled National Socialist Underground (NSU) only began this week. Prosecutors say Beate Zschaepe, 38, is the sole survivor of the NSU. She stands accused as an accomplice to murders and bombings.

The other two members, Uwe Boehnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, are dead after an apparent 2011 suicide pact. They are believed to have gunned down nine immigrants and a policewoman from 2000 to 2007 in attacks that chilled Germany’s ethnic Turkish minority and baffled police.

Another accused, 33-year-old Carsten S, this week admitted couriering a gun and silencer to the gang about 13 years ago.

There was an adjournment of the court before 39-year-old Holger G could begin reading out his statement.

“Follow the reading of this declaration, our client will not for the time being answer any further questions,” his lawyer Stefan Hachmeister told the court. He said Holger G might add more testimony later in the trial.

Police have said the trio, who were living with fake identities and supporting themselves by robbing banks, turned to neo-Nazi Holger G to borrow his identity documents because he resembled one of the gang members.Author: Jean-Baptiste Piggin and Jochen Neumeyer – dpa