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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Merkel to lead Germans in marking far-right victims

Chancellor Angela Merkel will lead Germans in a minute's silence Thursday to mark the victims of neo-Nazi violence, after the discovery of a neo-Nazi gang thought to have killed 10 people, mainly foreign.

Merkel will hold a speech remembering the victims in Berlin's giant concert hall on Thursday. Around 1,200 guests are expected, including relatives of those killed, diplomats and other victims of violence.

Merkel has described the murders as a "disgrace" to Germany and admitted gross errors during the course of the investigation. The minute's silence across the country has been called for 12:00 pm.

In November it emerged that a neo-Nazi cell of three calling itself the National Socialist Underground was presumed to be behind the unsolved murders of 10 people, mainly shopkeepers of Turkish origin, between 2000 and 2007.

The case blew open when two of the members were found dead in an apparent suicide pact and the other, a woman identified as Beate Zschaepe, turned herself in but has refused to speak to police.

Merkel has described the murders as a "disgrace" to Germany and admitted gross errors during the course of the investigation. The minute's silence across the country has been called for 12:00 pm.

Following Merkel's address, Semiya Simsek and Gamze Kubasik, both daughters of victims, will speak, according to a programme issued by the office of the German president.

Horst Seehofer, the head of the Bundesrat upper house of parliament will assume the position of president in the wake of the resignation last week of Christian Wulff amid corruption allegations.  -AFP

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