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Justice

'Lack of respect for relatives of NSU victims'

The father of a deceased alleged member of the neo-Nazi NSU terrorist group berated one of the case's judges before being removed from court. An attorney for a joint plaintiff explains how the case has progressed so far.

During the trial on the murders and bomb attacks carried out by right-wing terror group "National Socialist Underground" (NSU), Uwe Mundlos' father gave testimony as a witness. Together with Uwe Böhnhardt and Beate Zschäpe, Uwe Mundlos is seen as among the main perpetrators of crimes allegedly committed by the NSU. Both men were found dead in November 2011; police suspect they committed suicide.

Berlin-based attorney Sebastian Scharmer has represented joint plaintiff Gamze Kubasik at the NSU case since it began in Munich on May 6, 2013. Kubasik's father, Mehmet Kubasik, was shot at his kiosk in Dortmund on April 4, 2006.

DW: Siegfried Mundlos verbally abused judge Manfred Götzl during his testimony. What exactly happened?

Sebastian Scharmer: The presiding judge had asked him whether he had talked with his son about Uwe Böhnhardt's radicalization within the right-wing scene. To that Mundlos replied "You little wise..." It was probably meant to be "You little wise-ass." Later on he told Götzl that he was arrogant for not addressing him as "professor" but only "Dr. Mundlos." To top it all off, at one point during the hearing he started eating an apple. That's when the presiding judge had enough.

What impression did one of the main suspects' father make on the court?

Mundlos sits down at a hearing
Photo: Marc Tirl/dpa

Scharmer said his client was glad not to have been in the courtroom to hear comments from Mundlos (seen here at an earlier hearing)

To me, he left an almost delusional impression. Of course, it's very difficult to cope with one's own son having possibly murdered 10 people and attempted to kill many more in bomb attacks. On the other hand, I feel what Mr. Mundlos did showed a lack of respect not only for the court, but also for the relatives of the NSU victims. He said the NSU really actually had 12 victims, by which he meant to include Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt. That's incredibly presumptuous. He completely flipped around the perception of who the victims are in this matter - and it doesn't reflect reality at all. To me, it's important to not to give too much attention to Mr. Mundlos' conspiracy theories. On the other hand, I do agree with the basic statement: There were confidential informants of the intelligence services - or people within the Nazi-scene who were paid by the intelligence service - who contributed to the radicalization of the trio. But he exaggerates this to an extent that it almost sounds preposterous.

What effect does such an appearance have on joint plaintiffs such as your client Gamze Kubasik who lost her father in that series of murders?

I have talked to Ms. Kubasik about this, and she told me she was happy that she was not present [at the hearing] as such statements would be hard to listen to.

There have been about 70 days of hearings during the first year of the NSU trial. The joint plaintiffs in particular are anxious to learn who was responsible for the murders and who helped them. What has trial brought to light in that respect?

Black and white photo of Mehmet Kubasik
Photo: Bernd Thissen dpa

The NSU's eighth suspected victim, Mehmet Kubasik was killed in 2006

We are just beginning to look into this. First, we reviewed the crime scenes one-by-one, and heard from the respective witnesses. Now we have started hearing from the so-called structural witnesses who were associated with or knew the accused, and that's going to be interesting: Who else was part of the NSU's supporting entourage, who was involved in what kind of acts and to what degree? We haven't made it very far with this yet. This is going to be a very important task for the remainder of the trial - vigorously questioning witnesses with connections to the NSU, as well as people in of the intelligence services and trying to find out who else was behind what.

The way government institutions handled the NSU case in the past has been seen as problematic. Have there been any results in that respect?

Statements from the lead investigators at the crime scenes did not show much self-criticism or questioning of their own actions. It was actually quite the contrary. We had investigators sitting there practically swollen with pride telling us, "We did everything correctly." At least in hindsight, I had expected that someone would say, "Yes, we did make a mistake, our investigations might have gone in the wrong direction." But that was far from the case. Most of them still hold top positions, which is an alarming signal for the [victims'] relatives.

You and other representatives of the joint plaintiffs had requested for more files to be included in the trial, such as those regarding the presence of a member of the intelligence services at the crime scene in Kassel. Could that help to smother conspiracy theories?

Exactly, it's particularly the crude conspiracy theories like those Siegfried Mundlos presented that thrive on this sort of non-transparency, and it doesn't help at all if all the files are not put on the table. The public prosecutor general started investigations into at least nine more people. As representatives of the joint plaintiffs, we do not have any access to these files. Transparency is one of the trial's key problems. The transparency that is needed to for the case, and which is desired by all the joint plaintiffs and all the victims and their families, is not apparent. We will have to fight for every piece of paperwork we need, and that is going to leave a mark on the case.

What are the most important questions that the case will handle next year?

Next year the case will cover the murder of police officer Michele Kiesewetter and attempted murder of her colleague, bomb attacks in Cologne and the apparent flashlight bombing in Nurnberg. Another key element will be our attempt to show that the NSU was not made up of three manic, violence-prone perpetrators but rather, that they were part of a much larger structure.

DW.DE