World Bulletin / News Desk
Ralf Wohlleben, a main supporter of the far-right National Socialist Underground (NSU), was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Munich court last week, for providing the gun used in the murders.
The court announced on Wednesday that it has approved the request of Wohlleben’s lawyers for his release, as he already served the two-thirds of his sentence in detention during the trial.
The shadowy NSU killed 10 people, including eight Turkish immigrants and one Greek as well as a police officer, between 2000 and 2007, but the murders had long remained unresolved.
After a five year-long trial of the suspects, Munich’s Higher Regional Court delivered its ruling last week, which has disappointed the families of the victims, who said the trial has left many key questions unanswered.
They also accused authorities of trying to cover up the neo-Nazi group’s possible ties to informants and officials working for the domestic intelligence agency.
The court handed a life sentence to the main suspect Beate Zschaepe, but gave lighter sentences to four other suspects, who provided support to the terrorist group.
Among them, Andre Emminger, who rented caravans for the group which were used during the murders, was also released from prison last week.
The German public first learned of the NSU’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, Beate Zschaepe, the only surviving member of the group, declined to give any insight about the NSU and tried to lay the blame on her two deceased colleagues.
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.
However, authorities in the central German state of Hesse decided to keep several documents secret for 120 years, prompting further speculations about the NSU’s possible ties.