The brother of one of the victims of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) said he and his family were still expecting an apology from police for failing to investigate the murders.
The far-right NSU murdered eight Turks, one Greek and a female police officer between 2000 and 2007. The police had no idea an extremist group was murdering people, believing the Turks were being murdered due to personal reasons.
The existence of the NSU was only found out when two of its members, Uwe Böhnhard and Uwe Mundlos, committed suicide after a bank robbery on Nov. 4, 2011 and the third, Beate Zschaepe, surrendered to the police a few days later.
Osman Taşköprü, the brother of Süleyman Taşköprü who was murdered by the far-right terrorist group in 2001, told Anadolu news agency the family felt persecuted after his brother’s murder on June 27, 2001. He said the German state as a whole, and particularly the police seemed to blame the family for the murder of his brother, who was working as a grocer in Berlin.
“At the time, the German state, the public and the police pointed their fingers at us. No one deemed it necessary to investigate xenophobia. No one talked of far-right groups. They only pressured us,” Taşköprü said.
Blunders on the part of authorities investigating the NSU or “coincidences” that led up to the destruction of critical evidence has been piling up in the case since the gang’s existence was made public.
Critics of the case also claim police and intelligence services that had hired people from the neo-Nazi scene to serve as informants have tried to erase their connections to the NSU case.
Despite its links to many gangs in Germany’s neo-Nazi scene, the NSU apparently went unnoticed for years, from the late 1990s to 2011.
The sole remaining member of the NSU, Zschaepe, is being tried by a court in Munich since May 2013 for 10 murders, two bombings and 15 bank robberies. Four accomplices are also being tried by the same court.
Taşköprü said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had invited the families of victims to Berlin in 2012.
“We sat at the same table. She told us that they wanted to enlighten the entire matter. She is yet to keep her promise,” he said.
He also said, “There needs to be some events held to create awareness about what happened then. Such acts are remembered if events are held. If not, everyone forgets about it.”
One of the most criticized acts by the families of the victims was the way they were treated when the murders took place. The police ignored all the evidence tying the crimes to far-right groups, instead preferring to try to link the murders to police.
“Neither a phone call, nor a letter. The police in Hamburg did not come once to apologize to us, despite all the wrongful accusations they made,” he said.
NO HOPE FOR JUSTICE
The four-year NSU trial did not appear promising, he said, “Because, they are not uncovering the facts. Everything is being hidden.”
The trial has entered its closing stages, with prosecutors starting to present their closing arguments last week.
Zschaepe, 42, has denied any involvement in the murders, blaming the murders on two other NSU members, who died in an apparent murder-suicide in 2011.
A professional gardener, Zschaepe has also been accused of torching the apartment where she lived with Mundlos and Bohnhardt in the eastern Germany city of Zwickau.
Zschaepe’s lawyers are expected to present their closing arguments in September with a verdict due later in the year.
A video belonging to the gang members showing the crimes being committed revealed the presence of the neo-Nazi gang, which was apparently already known to intelligence agencies that had maintained ties with neo-Nazi figures linked to the gang who were serving as informants, providing intelligence services.
The discovery of the NSU shed light on how police, either deliberately or mistakenly, blamed domestic disputes in the Turkish community for the murders.
The two families of the murder victims recently sued Germany for damages. Speaking to the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Mehmet Daimagüler, the lawyer who represents the families of Enver Şimşek and İsmail Yaşar, said the lawsuit was over a series of mishaps in the search for the neo-Nazi gang.
In their petition for the lawsuit, the families say the gang, which has close ties to informants working for German intelligence as well as connections to a string of actions that have fueled suspicion regarding their activities, could have been discovered before 2000, the year when they started their murderous rampage targeting Turks.
The families also seek compensation for damages incurred from being “wrongfully suspected” by police in the murders of victims.