Courtroom wrangling in German neo-Nazi murder trial

Lawyers for a German woman on trial over a neo-Nazi group's murder spree that targeted mostly Turkish migrants demanded Tuesday that the hearing be moved to a larger courtroom, as legal wrangling dominated the high-profile proceedings.

The request was among several procedural motions put forward on the delayed second day of the trial against Beate Zschaepe, 38, and four alleged supporters of the self-styled National Socialist Underground (NSU).

No charges had been read out by noon as the defence and prosecutors traded arguments over the way that the hearing, taking place in the southern city of Munich, should proceed and where.

A co-plaintiff has also demanded that a Christian cross be taken off the wall of the courtroom, citing the separation of Church and state.

One of Zschaepe's lawyers, Wolfgang Heer, Tuesday demanded that the closely-watched trial be halted and moved to a larger room than the chamber that has only 100 seats for the public, half of them reserved for journalists.

He requested that "the trial be restarted in another courtroom which has sufficient capacity for the public, given the importance of this trial."

An exasperated state prosecutor, Herbert Diemer, retorted that "the creativity of the defence appears to be limitless," after the defence team had also on May 6 accused the chief judge of being biased, sparking an eight-day delay.

The hearing -- held under tight security, with almost 400 police stationed around the building -- is one of Germany's highest-profile trials in decades.

Prosecutors accuse Zschaepe of complicity in the 2000-07 spree of bloody hate crimes committed by two male NSU members who died in an apparent murder-suicide in 2011 after a botched bank robbery.

Zschaepe is not suspected of having pulled the trigger in the assassination-style shootings but is accused of complicity in all the murders. The victims were eight ethnic Turks, a Greek immigrant and a German policewoman.

Authorities had suspected immigrant gangsters behind the nationwide series of shootings and only after the two NSU men's deaths stumbled upon what they now consider a far-right terrorist organisation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the killings a "disgrace" for Germany and apologised to the victims' relatives, some of whom police had initially treated as suspects.

Zschaepe also faces charges over the gang's two bomb attacks and 15 armed robberies, as well as arson for torching the trio's house after the deaths of the two men, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt.

Zschaepe, entering court Tuesday in a business-like grey blazer, wearing large hoop earrings and her hair tied back, immediately turned her back on photographers and chatted casually with her defence team.

Two alleged former NSU supporters, identified only as Carsten S. and Holger G., hid their faces, while two others, Ralf Wohlleben and Andre E., looked directly into the cameras.

Aside from state prosecutors, lawyers for 86 co-plaintiffs are taking part, hoping for clarity about the crimes and the state intelligence failures that allowed the murders to go on for so long.