BERLIN -- A German woman on trial for being part of a neo-Nazi group suspected of killing 10 people has spoken in court for the first time to disavow the nationalist ideas she once believed in.
Beate Zschaepe is accused of membership in the National Socialist Underground, or NSU, which carried out a seven-year murder spree targeting mostly immigrants.
Zschaepe told the Munich court on Thursday that she once identified with “elements of nationalist ideology.” German news agency dpa quoted her as saying she now judges people “not by their origin or political mindset but according to their behavior.”
Zschaepe’s trial began in May 2013 and is expected to continue into next year.
She broke her silence for the first time in four years in 2015, telling the court she only learned of the slayings after they had taken place.
In a statement read by her lawyer in December 2015, Zschaepe said the killings, two bomb attacks and several bank robberies , Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, who died in an apparent murder-suicide in 2011.
Prosecutors allege that the trio formed the National Socialist Underground, which killed eight Turkish men, a Greek and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007.
“I reject the prosecution’s charge that I was a member of a terrorist organization called NSU,” German news agency dpa quoted Zschaepe as saying.
Zschaepe described last year how she met Mundlos during her childhood in East Germany in the late 1980s, and how she became part of the far-right scene that emerged after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
The trio went into hiding in 1998. Zschaepe acknowledged that her alleged accomplices told her about the attacks after they happened, but claims she didn’t report them to police because they threatened to commit suicide if she did so.
“I sincerely apologize to all of the victims and relatives of victims,” she said in her statement.