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German prosecutor requests life sentence for neo-Nazi suspect Zschaepe

GERMAN PROSECUTOR REQUESTS LIFE SENTENCE FOR NEO-NAZI SUSPECT ZSCHAEPE

Germany's federal prosecutor said Tuesday that Beate Zschaepe, the main surviving suspect in a trial of neo-Nazis accused of murdering 10 people, should be given a life prison sentence.

Prosecutors say Zschaepe was part of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) group that killed eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007, leading to one of the most closely watched trials in post-war Germany.

42-year-old Zschaepe is the only survivor of the three-member NSU gang. The belated discovery followed by a botched investigation process was severely criticized by members of the Turkish community and the government.

Zschaepe has denied taking part in the murders with two friends who killed themselves in 2011 when police discovered the gang by chance. But she has, through her lawyer, said she felt morally guilty for not stopping them.

"The accused is criminally fully responsible for her behavior," said federal prosecutor Herbert Diemer, calling for Zschaepe to be given a life sentence for 10 murders.

He described Zschaepe as an "ice-cold, calculating person", adding that there were no mitigating circumstances.

Zschaepe listened impassively, resting her chin on her hands.

Prosecutors said in July that four years of hearing evidence had shown that Zschaepe was a "co-founder, member and accomplice" of a terrorist organization.

The case was muddled with allegations that German intelligence and security forces turned a blind eye to the gang up until their "accidental" discovery in 2011 and that the officials sought to destroy evidence once the gang's connections to informants from the far-right scene were revealed.

Zschaepe has been on trial since May 2013 for crimes committed by the gang, ranging from racially motivated murders to a bombing and a string of bank robberies between 2000 and 2007.

The group had carried out "the most violent and infamous terror attacks" -- including two bombings and 15 bank robberies -- since the end of the Red Army Faction's two-decade spree in 1991, in which 34 people are estimated to have been killed.

Although the NSU murders were carried out by Zschaepe's two friends, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, both now dead in what is believed to have been a murder-suicide, she played a major role behind the scenes, according to prosecutors.

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