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The Ceska murders

How Germany's failure to track down the killers of nine immigrants affected its relationship with the Turkish community.

Last updated: 20 Aug 2014 11:25
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Filmmaker: Sibel Karakurt

In May 2013, crowds and media gathered outside the Munich Higher Regional Court in Bavaria, southern Germany. The trial about to start was a criminal prosecution involving five defendants, 77 interveners, 600 witnesses, more than 50 lawyers, 488 pages of criminal charges, and 280,000 pages of interrogation records. It was a milestone case for Germany which had already caused a lot of social and political tension.

At last, the phantom murderer has a face and years of not knowing what happened are over

Jens Rabe, a German lawyer

This trial, defined as one of Germany's highest-profile trials since World War II, was investigating the murders of eight Turks, one Greek and one German policewoman, two bomb attacks and 15 bank robberies, all executed between 2000 and 2007 in different parts of the country.

Police found nothing in their investigations except a certain clue: all victims been killed with the same method and gun - a rare Czech manufactured gun called Ceska 83.

Their investigation focused on supposed mafia and drug-related connections, causing the media to label the serial killings the 'Kebab' or 'Doner Murders'.

They investigated the family lives of the victims, their supposed business connections and social backgrounds but did not find out anything in common about the victims except their ethnicity and the murders' weapon. 

The victim's families were at best disappointed and at worst incensed, particularly when it emerged accidently that the far-right wing National Socialist Underground (NSU) had been responsible. Then 36-year-old Beate Zschape confessed but the other two killers were found dead. 

Zschape's trial in Munich is ongoing and the final verdict is expected for the end of 2014, but uncomfortable questions as to how the NSU evaded detection for so long have already led to the resignation of senior regional political figures. 

 
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