Zschaepe is the sole surviving member of a white supremacist terrorist cell that called itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU).
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From 2000 to 2007, the three-member group was behind at least 10 murders — killing eight men of Turkish origin, a Greek migrant and a German female police officer — as well as carrying out two bombings in immigrant areas of Cologne and 15 bank robberies, according to prosecutors.
The two other known members of the cell, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide after a bungled bank robbery in 2011. It was only then that investigators linked the killings and realized they were carried out by the same group.
Zschaepe turned herself in to police shortly after and has been on trial since 2013.
She denied the killings, speaking only twice during more than 400 days of hearings in the five-year case. She did apologize to the victims' families and said she felt morally responsible for not stopping Mundlos and Boehnhardt.
"I am a compassionate person and was able to see and feel the distress and despair of the families," she said in her closing statement to court last week.
In her only other testimony, she had previously denied being part of NSU altogether and claimed to have been horrified when the other two members told her about the killings.
Zschaepe's lawyers had urged the court to convict her of the lesser charges of arson and robbery.