By Erbil Basay
BERLIN (AA) - Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Wednesday that the end of the NSU trial should not be a "final point" in the country’s fight against the far-right extremism.
A German court sentenced neo-Nazi Beate Zschaepe to life in prison Wednesday for the terrorist group NSU’s murders and bomb attacks targeting Turkish immigrants.
"With today's verdict, the judiciary has completed its work. The court verdict, however, cannot relieve the pain of relatives and the suffering of the surviving victims,” Seehofer said.
Andre Emminger, who rented caravans for the group which were used during the murders in 2000-2007, was given a prison sentence of two years and six months.
Two other suspects -- Holger G. and Carsten S. -- who admitted providing support to the group in the past and cooperated with the police, also got lighter sentences.
Holger G. was sentenced to three years in prison, and Carsten S. was sentenced to three years under the juvenile penal code.
Ralf Wohlleben, a main supporter of the terrorist NSU who was charged with providing the gun used in the murders, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, two years less than prosecutors sought.
Gerbert Diemer, the state attorney, praised the outcome of the trial, calling the verdict as “success of the rule of law.”
- 'NSU-milieu remains in the dark'
Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, for his part, said that there are many questions which remained unanswered.
"NSU-milieu remains in the dark," he noted.
The National Socialist Underground (NSU) killed eight Turkish immigrants, a Greek citizen, and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007, but the murders remained long unsolved. The group also carried out bomb attacks targeting shops owned by immigrants in Cologne.
The German public first learned of the group's existence and its role in the murders in 2011, when two members -- Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Bohnhardt -- died after an unsuccessful bank robbery and police found guns and extreme-right literature in their apartment.
During the five-year trial, Zschaepe denied any role in the killings and bomb attacks and tried to lay the blame on her two late colleagues in the far-right terror cell.
But her defense team failed to present any strong evidence to dispute the accusations.
As the 43-year old declined to give any insight about the NSU, major questions over the murders remain unanswered.
- Institutional racism alleged
The scandal surrounding the neo-Nazi NSU has led to criticism of police and security agencies, and accusations of institutional racism.
Until 2011, Germany’s police and intelligence services ruled out any racial motive for the murders and instead treated immigrant families as suspects, questioning them over alleged connections with mafia groups and drug traffickers.
While recent revelations have shown that Germany’s domestic intelligence agency had dozens of informants who had contacts with the NSU suspects, officials insisted that they had no prior information about the NSU terror cell and its suspected role in the killings.