Germany: 500 police officers keep the peace at Munich trial of neo-Nazis
Many demonstrations against racism and rallies for justice are taking place today under tight police supervision in front of the State Court in Munich where the much-publicized trial is scheduled to begin of Beate Zschäpe, a member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), and four of her alleged assistants. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that many people waited in line all night to get into the courtroom today, but only the first 50 were allowed in. The streets near the courthouse are lined with news crews and their broadcasting vehicles.
"Where a wrong is concerned, I can put up with anything,” said a senior citizen who had been standing in line at the courthouse for more than 17 hours. He explained his long wait by saying that if he were to get a seat in the courtroom, it would be one less for a neo-Nazi to take. He was facing the cool night with a thermos of hot coffee.
In Nymphenburger Steet, where the court is headquartered, buses, police vans and television vehicles parked next to one another. People who wanted a seat at the trial were waiting in front of the building under a white tent. They included journalists who had not won the accreditation lottery and people who did not want to miss the start of the exceptionally-publicized trial.
Police closed off a wide area around the courthouse for security reasons and installed two rows of temporary fencing directly in front of the building. No one is allowed to park so much as a bicycle in front of the seat of justice. Over the weekend police repeatedly assured the public that their measures were merely preventative and that they had no record of any information about a possible attack.
Police were also monitoring all of the protests and rallies that organizers have announced for today. In the morning, representatives of a Turkish association calling for justice held an event in front of the courthouse. Several other demonstrations against racism will take place during the course of the day.
No clashes have yet been reported from the scene. According to the footage that has been broadcast, people are demonstrating peacefully.
Just before the start of the trial, two Turkish women prompted a petty shoving match when they loudly expressed their disagreement with the fact that they would not be let into the courtroom. They proceeded to break several glass bottles and tried to climb over the temporary fencing. Police intervened, led the pair away, and later announced that they had not been detained. Shortly thereafter the women were seen demonstrating in front of the courthouse again, holding a banner demanding justice. Some media outlets have reported that they are relatives of the victims of the racist attacks, while other journalists have identified them as members of a particular youth movement.
The trial is also nerve-wracking for the co-plaintiffs who survived their relatives’ deaths. About 80 people have joined the public prosecutor’s case. News server augsburger-allgemeine.de reports that 26 co-plaintiffs made it to the courthouse today, some of whom showed clear signs of their nervous tension.
"I don’t feel good," said Fatih Demirtash, the son-in-law of Enver Shimshek, who was the first victim in the series of murders. "I just keep thinking about the trial.”
Demirtash said he was sorry he could not be in the courtroom with his wife, Semiya, who is pregnant and is hoping to learn why this tragedy impacted her family in particular. They traveled to Munich from Turkey for the trial.
Zschäpe and the four other defendants are facing charges of participating in 10 murders, creating and supporting a terrorist group, and other serious felonies. If convicted, Zschäpe faces life in prison. The trial should end in January 2014.
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