Called “Nazi Bride” by the German media, Beate Zschaepe, 43, has been sentenced to life in prison for 10 murders she committed while she was part of neo-Nazi gang National Socialist Underground, or NSU, Reuters reports. She was the main defendant on trial and the verdict carries an instant life sentence.
Zschaepe has also been called “Hitler Child” by anti-racism protestors.
Zschaepe has denied participating in the murders alongside two men, Uwe Boehnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, who committed suicide in 2011 after a botched bank robbery. Their bodies were found in a caravan used in the crime. She did, however, have her lawyer tell the court that she felt morally responsible for not preventing the murders.
The “Nazi Bride” shared an apartment with the two men in the eastern town of Zwickau, according to BBC News, and a fire at the home to burn evidence used in the crimes led to her contacting authorities.
She denied any knowledge of how the victims were chosen in court and said she only perceived the seriousness of these crimes after turning herself in. It was after her comrades took their own lives that the crimes were linked back to the NSU.
According to The New York Post, police attributed the crimes to the gangland ties of the murder victims for years before discovering the connection to a far-right group who based their principles on white supremacy.
The NSU trio was behind 10 murders, killing a Greek migrant, a German police officer, and eight Turkish men between 2000 and 2007. They were also behind 15 bank robberies and two bombings in largely immigrant areas of Cologne, prosecutors say. The majority of the victims targeted in their crimes were Turkish immigrants.
The NSU murders are reported to be the most violent acts of their kind in Germany since the far-left Red Army Faction’s killing spree in 1991, which left 34 people dead over 20 years.
“I am a compassionate person and was able to see and feel the distress and despair of the families,” Zschaepe said in her closing statement to the court last week.
The former NSU member reportedly maintained a calm demeanor in court, simply conversing with her lawyer before a judge read the verdict. She wore a subdued black outfit and purple scarf the day that she was sentenced to life in prison.
Zschaepe has been on trial since 2013 and spoke only twice during her five years in court, according to NBC News. Her conviction marks the end of Germany’s most followed neo-Nazi trial to date.