BERLIN -- After a yearlong investigation, prosecutors in Germany on Thursday brought murder charges against the last surviving member of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell, alleging she had a role in a decade of killings, robberies and bombings by the group that has raised troubling questions about the German police and domestic security services.
Prosecutors charged that Beate Zschäpe, 37, arranged financing and logistics for two male confederates, Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, in one of the worst crime rampages in postwar German history. Four other men were charged on Thursday with aiding and abetting the group, which prosecutors say was responsible for 10 murders across the country as well as two bomb attacks in Cologne and 15 bank holdups.
The group's victims included eight men of Turkish background and one Greek man, as well as a female police officer. The series of killings, which took place from 2000 to 2007, was initially known as the "döner murders," a reference to Turkish kebab stands, which victims' families found demeaning and even racist.
The existence of a deadly cell of neo-Nazis shocked German society when it came to light a year ago, raising questions about how a violent group of renegades could operate undetected for so long and why the police had persisted in searching for ties to Turkish organized crime instead of violent racists.
The security services and Germany's interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, have come under heavy criticism. The head of the domestic intelligence agency resigned in July because an official in his office had shredded documents potentially containing evidence from paid informants about members of the group.
The state domestic intelligence chiefs in Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt also stepped down as a result of the case, and the head of the federal criminal police said he would leave office at the end of the year.
"It's very late and it might be too little," Mehmet Daimagüler, a lawyer for the families of two of the victims, said of the charges. "What we have learned so far over the past 12 months is that part of the German security forces might be involved in one or the other way. There are many, many, many question marks."
The group, which called itself the National Socialist Underground and was based in the town of Zwickau in eastern Germany, was discovered only after Mr. Böhnhardt and Mr. Mundlos killed themselves last November rather than face arrest after a bank robbery that went wrong.
"The 'N.S.U.' members saw themselves as a unified killing command which carried out its concerted assassinations driven by racist motivations and hostile attitudes towards the state," the prosecutors' statement said. The killers used the same Ceska 83 pistol with a silencer for all 10 of the murders they committed, according to prosecutors, because they wanted to terrify the immigrant communities they were targeting, hoping that a growing sense of insecurity would force foreigners to flee the country.
The domestic intelligence apparatus was meant to protect against just such extremist groups. Critics have fastened on the even more troubling possibility that the N.S.U. was inadvertently but indirectly supported through payments to confidential informants in the far-right scene, several of whom had connections to the group over the years.
In the Bundestag on Thursday, Hartfrid Wolff, a member of a parliamentary panel looking into the N.S.U. matter, called the mistakes of the authorities "staggering" and described "a grave loss of trust in the ability of the security agencies" as a result of the document shredding.
"We're not talking about two pages or even 10 pages, but entire folders full of documents," said Hans-Christian Ströbele, a member of the parliamentary committee that oversees the security services. "We don't want to speculate, but the assumption and the fear is that something was in those files we weren't supposed to know about."
In addition to the shootings, prosecutors say that the group was behind two bombings in Cologne, one in January 2001 and the other in June 2004, that were intended to kill "as many people as possible only because of their non-German origin." Twenty-three people were wounded in the bomb attacks, but no one was killed.
After Mr. Böhnhardt and Mr. Mundlos killed themselves, Ms. Zschäpe set fire to the apartment unit where she lived with the two men to try to cover up evidence of their crimes. The fire led to an enormous explosion that gutted a large part of the building.
In the days that followed, Ms. Zschäpe mailed to the news media and various groups copies of a gruesome video that spliced together bloody photographs of the victims taken at the crime scenes with cartoons of the Pink Panther and his trademark theme song. She then turned herself in to the police and has been in custody, awaiting trial for the past year.
Prosecutors do not accuse Ms. Zschäpe of pulling the trigger in any of the shootings. She has made no statements about the accusations against her.
Wolfgang Heer, one of Ms. Zschäpe's lawyers, said that he could not comment on the charges themselves, as he has not seen the indictment. The defense "has had to inform itself about the state of the case through television, radio and newspapers from the very beginning," Mr. Heer said.
The four men charged as accomplices on Thursday were identified only by first name and last initial, as is customary in German justice. Ralf W. and Carsten S. were charged with accessory to murder for acquiring the pistol and silencer. André E. was charged with aiding in a bomb attack and as an accessory in the robberies. Holger G. was accused of supporting a terrorist group.
The police were still investigating eight other suspected accomplices, but it remained unclear whether they had supported the group recently enough to fall within the 10-year statute of limitations for abetting a terrorist group. Prosecutors said that few people knew of the group's activities. "Their real identity and terrorist aims were only known to a restricted circle of a few backers and assistants," the statement said.
That contradicts public assertions that a far wider group must have been aware of what was going on, either helping or at least looking the other way.
"No one can hide for 13 or 14 years in an overregulated and over-controlled society like Germany without a network of supporters," Mr. Daimagüler said. "This just does not reflect the reality of this case."
Victor Homola and Chris Cottrell contributed reporting.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.