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Germany court opens neo-Nazi terrorism trial

Trial began in Germany Monday for Beate Zschaepe, a neo-Nazi member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), for alleged complicity in the murder of eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman in Germany between 2000 and 2007, as well as two bombings and 15 bank robberies. Her two presumed accomplices died in an apparent murder-suicide in November 2011, after which Zschaepe turned herself in. There are four other male defendants [AP report] accused of aiding the NSU. Although Zschaepe will not have to make a pleading until the end of the trial, her lawyers have indicated that she will remain silent during the trial and will contest the charges. Her lawyers have also challenged the impartiality of the judge [Reuters report] for ordering searches of them but not of other participants entering the court. If convicted, Zschaepe faces life in prison. The trial is scheduled to last more than a year, but has been temporarily been put on hold due to Judge Manfred Goetzl deciding that he should recuse himself by May 14.

Besides Germany, several countries have faced issues dealing with neo-nazi movements and propaganda. In January an Austrian court convicted [JURIST report] three neo-Nazis of glorifying Nazism over the Internet, sentencing them to as many as nine years in prison. In June 2011 the Supreme Court of Spain [official website, in Spanish] overturned [JURIST report] the convictions of four individuals charged with distributing neo-Nazi propaganda, reasoning that disseminating Nazi ideology is not a crime unless used to incite violence or certain danger, or create a hostile climate. In July 2010 a Russian court sentenced [JURIST report] 14 neo-Nazis, including a group leader and several teenagers, to jail terms for committing hate crimes against ethnic minorities in the country. Also in 2010 a criminal court in France convicted [JURIST report] 14 members of a neo-nazi group.

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