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Fifty-five German MPs have issued a statement against a German court's refusal to allow Turkish media to follow the trial of five members of the neo-Nazi ring the National Socialist Underground (NSU), whose victims include eight Turks.
Germany caused eyebrows to raise in Turkey when it was revealed last month that a Munich court did not allocate seats for Turkish media to follow the NSU trial during which neo-Nazi suspect Beate Zschäpe and four alleged supporters of the terrorist group NSU will be tried for the murder of 10 victims, eight of whom were Turks and one of whom was a Greek immigrant.
On Thursday, 55 deputies from Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Green Party and the Left Party signed the petition, asking the court to include international journalists, particularly from Turkey and Greece. Deputies of Turkish origin Sevim Dagdelen, Aydan Ozoguz and Memet Kılıç launched the petition.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Wednesday that Germany wants foreigners to follow the NSU trial, which is set to begin on April 17 in Munich.Stressing that Germany has consistently punished far-right crimes as a country respecting the rule of law, Westerwelle said his country also wanted to see foreigners closely following the NSU trial, in a statement released after meeting with Turkish Ambassador to Germany Huseyin Avni Karslıoglu.
In addition, the German foreign minister called on the Munich court to find “an acceptable solution” that will ensure seats for Turkish reporters at the trial. Westerwelle also said on Tuesday that the controversy surrounding the trial risked tarnishing Germany's image.
In a related development the German Journalists' Union (DJU) and the German Journalists Association (DJV) demanded a revision of the accreditation list for the trial that is due to start on April 17.
The Higher State Court of Munich had earlier stated that they will not make any changes to their list of accreditation -- which has the names of 50 media establishments -- after various Turkish media representatives sent letters to the court for their inclusion in the list of accreditation to cover the NSU trial.
Chief judge of the Munich court Karl Huber said the current list of accreditation will remain in force, adding that if a certain media organization was to give up seats during the covering of the trial, a Turkish media organization could occupy that seat.
Following the release of the seating plan for the trial, Turkish as well as German politicians, the media and Germany's Turkish community accused the Munich court of gross insensitivity in failing to guarantee Turkish reporters access to the trial of suspected neo-Nazis accused of a racist killing spree.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday had a phone call with his German counterpart Westerwelle, calling on him to work for allocating seats to the Turkish media and an official representative to follow the trial.
During the phone call, Davutoglu told Westerwelle that Turkey is closely following the trial and conveyed Ankara's concerns over a recent decision by the German court not to allow Turkish reporters to witness the trial. He asked Westerwelle to take steps to allow the Turkish media to cover the trial, the Anatolia news agency reported.
Noting that the German government is on the same page as the Turkish government on the issue, Westerwelle said the German government attaches importance to the Turkish public being able to follow the trial, adding that steps that can be taken about the issue are being discussed.
From the German side, one German government minister said it was unacceptable and a potential national embarrassment, while German judges have criticized the Munich court for not allocating the Turkish media seats at the NSU trial.
A former deputy head of Germany's Federal Constitutional Court, Winfried Hassemer, said the judges of the Munich court were acting in a political not pragmatic manner. Klaus Volk, an expert on criminal law, criticized the court for being insensitive.