Beate Zschaepe, the last surviving member of a Neo-Nazi trio accused of 10 murders between 2000 and 2007, goes on trial today in Munich, in a case that is riveting Germany. Zschaepe is charged in the killings of eight Turkish immigrants, a Greek immigrant, and a German police officer, but for years police believed the execution-style murders were connected to Turkish organized crime, the BBC reports. In reality, prosecutors say, Zschaepe and the other members of the National Socialist Underground were trying to instill fear in immigrants in an attempt to drive them out of Germany.
The plot finally came to light in November 2011, when the other two alleged members of the NSU, Uwe Mundlos, 38, and Uwe Boenhardt, 34, apparently killed themselves after a bank robbery gone wrong; police then discovered the gun used in the 10 murders and Zschaepe surrendered. The 38-year-old now faces life in prison; she is also accused of involvement in armed robberies, arson, and two bomb attacks. Four men are also standing trial, accused of helping the NSU. Today's opening drew anti-racism protesters outside the courthouse; German authorities have been accused of institutional racism and of being "blind" to right-wing extremism, der Spiegel reports, and the case has sparked debate about Germany's attitude toward immigrants. The trial could go on for more than a year, the New York Times adds. Neo-Nazis including Zschaepe were just last month found to be communicating from prison via secret code.