Thirty accused went on trial in Western Germany on Thursday for alleged abuse of refugees in their accommodation in a scandal that shocked the country when it came to light four years ago.
The accused, who are employees for the management of the accommodation, supervisors and security guards, are also alleged to have systematically detained the refugees.
The accused are charged on around 50 counts of deprivation of liberty, serious bodily harm and theft.
They were also said to have beaten and tortured asylum seekers in the town of Burbach in the state of North Rhine Westphalia for months on end.
At the beginning of the mammoth trial on Thursday in the nearby city of Siegen, the defendants were seated in eight rows in a convention centre.
The centre was where the regional court sat because of the number of people involved in the legal proceedings.
The harassment and ill-treatment were said to have occurred in so-called “problem rooms’’ in which the victims were often imprisoned for days.
Shocking pictures and a video of humiliated refugees some with posing, grinning security guards horrified the nation.
The scandal also triggered a political row about the quality and standards of refugee accommodation and put severe pressure on the state government at the time.
The private home operator was immediately replaced and teams set up to check the state refugee accommodation.