Plea in NSU trial: life sentence for Zschäpe

The German federal prosecutors are calling for life imprisonment and subsequent preventive detention for Beate Zschäpe, the main defendant in the NSU trial. They say she shares responsibility for the murders of nine migrants and a police woman committed by the right-wing extremist terrorist group NSU as well as for two attacks involving explosives. German commentators think the plea is justified but also point out weaknesses.

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Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Cold-blooded killer must not be released

The prosecutors were right to demand a tough punishment for Beate Zschäpe, comments Deutschlandfunk:

“Even if Beate Zschäpe described herself as an innocent appendage to a gang of criminals - she never showed any sympathy with the families of the victims during the trial. Also the way in which Zschäpe put an end to her life underground in 2011 shows how cold-blooded she could be. When she blew up the house she lived in she made sure her cats were safe first, but she obviously didn't spare a thought for the old lady who was still inside one of the flats. … So it's right that Beate Zschäpe has been classified as the security risk she actually poses. There cannot and should not be any way for her to get out of prison as long as the 42-year-old is still capable of committing a crime. And she will be for decades to come.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Not a word about the authorities' failures

The Süddeutsche Zeitung points to blind spots in the federal prosecutors' plea:

“ The prosecution has worked hard. Yet it has manoeuvered itself into a corner unnecessarily: into the corner of those who want to keep the state, and in particular the Federal Agency for the Protection of the Constitution and the Fight against Terrorism, out of this sorry affair in which the authorities failed for 13 years to realise that a gang of right-wing extremists was committing a string of murders across Germany. The authorities are not responsible for this from the point of view of criminal law, but they must at least accept the accusations of incompetence and disinterest bordering on negligence. The federal prosecutors have gone to great pains to investigate every facet of the NSU network. It is not their fault that the crimes of many of the NSU's helpers fall under the statute of limitations. But their mistake is not to have made any mention of the authorities' failures.”