Germany to compensate 'neo-Nazi' murder victims

Beate Zschaepe's burned-out flat in Zwickau One alleged member of the neo-Nazi group, Beate Zschaepe, blew up her flat before handing herself in

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Germany has agreed to compensate families of victims of an alleged neo-Nazi cell accused of killing 10 people over a decade.

The parliament, chancellery and presidency also agreed to hold a national memorial service for the dead.

The killings have long been known as the "kebab murders" because many of those killed ran snack shops.

Detectives have charged a woman and arrested another person in connection with the case.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called it a national disgrace, and questioned how the group could have slipped under the radar when it was known to the authorities.

Among the alleged victims were nine immigrants - eight from Turkey and one from Greece - and a police officer.

'Solidarity'

Promising compensation, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told reporters: "I fear that at the end of the investigation, we will uncover more victims of xenophobia than we are aware of today.

"Even if financial help cannot undo the suffering, I will attempt to give the victims' families a sign of our solidarity with compensation from my budget."

The existence of the cell, linked to the National Socialist Underground group, emerged when two alleged members of the group killed themselves.

The two men, Uwe Mundlos, 38, and Uwe Boenhardt, 34, were found dead earlier this month in a caravan in Eisenach in eastern Germany.

They had left behind a DVD in which they admitted to the 10 killings.

Beate Zschaepe, 36, who had shared a house with the two men, has since been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation. She had handed herself in.

Germany's top prosecutor Harald Range said two other people are suspected of helping the group.

Detectives are reopening all unsolved cases stretching back to 1998 in which possible racist motives could have been involved.

The alleged neo-Nazi cell is also suspected of carrying out a bomb attack in Cologne, in which 23 people were wounded, and a number of bank robberies.

The killings have reheated the debate in Germany as to whether to ban the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).

A previous attempt was rejected by the country's constitutional court in 2003.

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