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Alleged German Neo-Nazi's Murder Trial Put On Hold


Beate Zschaepe enters the court before the start of her trial in Munich on May 6.
A high-profile murder trial involving an alleged German neo-Nazi has been put on hold after defense lawyers accused the presiding judge of bias.

Judge Manfred Goetzl said the court was adjourned to consider the challenges by the lawyers.

Thirty-eight-year-old Beate Zschaepe, dressed in a dark suit and appearing relaxed, was escorted into the courtroom in Munich on May 6 under heavy police guard as antiracist protesters rallied outside.

Members of the public lined up before dawn for a chance to enter the courtroom, and even had their hair searched before being allowed in.

Zschaepe is charged with taking part in the murder of eight Turks, a Greek, and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007.

She is also accused of involvement in at least two bombings and 15 bank robberies and is charged with belonging to a terrorist organization, the far-right National Socialist Underground.

Four others are on trial and stand accused of assisting the organization. In 2011, two of its members died in a murder-suicide following a botched bank robbery.

The case has scandalized Germany, which is still struggling to come to terms with its Nazi past.

Many critics say the current government has been reluctant to acknowledge a rise in far-right activity in Germany, which has a large immigrant population.

The German parliament is conducting a separate inquiry into how police and intelligence agencies repeatedly failed to link the murders to far-right groups, in some instances putting the victims’ own relatives under suspicion.

The trial is the first chance for the victims’ families to come face-to-face with Zschaepe, who has offered little explanation for her motives.

She reportedly has been in contact with Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian anti-immigrant extremist who killed 77 people in a bomb and gun attack in 2011.

Breivik wrote to Zschaepe last year addressing her as “Dear Sister” and urging her to use her trial to spread far-right ideology.

The trial is expected to last nearly a year. Zschaepe faces life in prison if convicted.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa
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