German investigation into neo-Nazi killers a 'fiasco'-report

Long-anticipated parliamentary report shows that 10 racist murders could have been prevented, underlines grave failures of intelligence.

German investigation into neo-Nazi killers a 'fiasco'-report

World Bulletin/News Desk

A German police investigation into a neo-Nazi killing spree was a "fiasco", a report by a parliamentary committee in one of Germany's states said on Thursday.

The National Socialist Underground (NSU) murdered 10 people, mostly ethnic Turks, from 2000 to 2007.

German lawmakers have blamed the domestic intelligence service for a series of errors in 1998 that allowed a neo-Nazi trio to go underground, form a terror cell and commit at least 10 racist murders.

"The series of mistakes, unfulfilled decisions and non-compliance with basic standards during the investigations leads to the suspicion of targeted sabotage and a deliberate thwarting of efforts to find these fugitives," lawmakers in Thuringia State Parliament said Thursday in their long-anticipated report into murders by the neo-Nazi cell known as the National Socialist Underground, or NSU.

It said the police "did not pursue information insistently" and "massively underestimated the growing violence of the militant far right".

Beate Zschaepe, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, three far-right extremists from the city of Jena in Thuringia, had fled the state in 1998, fearing charges leveled at them in an ongoing investigation.

The fugitives then disappeared in the neighboring state of Saxony, renting houses under false names and allegedly forming a neo-Nazi cell.

Between 2000 and 2007, the group killed eight small-business owners of Turkish origin, a Greek immigrant and a German policewoman, without arousing the suspicion of the police or intelligence.

The NSU murdered eight Turks, a Greek and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007. The police initially failed to link the shootings, which were all carried out with the same gun.

They did not initially consider the attacks to be a series of racially motivated crimes, instead focusing their investigation on the personal lives of the victims.

The report asked relatives of the victims for forgiveness for "harbouring mistrust and racist suspicions towards them".

Holger Bellino, leader of the Christian Democrats (CDU) in the regional parliament of Hesse, said right-wing extremism was a disgrace to Germany.

"We abhor these crimes, and will do everything possible to ensure nothing like this ever happens again," he said.

The German public only learned about the NSU and its role in the 10 murders in November 2011, when two members of the organization reportedly died in a murder-suicide following an unsuccessful bank robbery.

Thuringia State Parliament’s investigation committee concluded in its 1,896-page report that the NSU murders could have been prevented.

It singled out the failures of domestic intelligence agency, and even raised suspicion that some officials in Thuringia had deliberately thwarted efforts to arrest these fugitives.

The report underlined that the domestic intelligence agency had many informants in the far-right milieu in Thuringia who had contacts with Zschaepe, Mundlos and Boehnhardt -- yet the agency had still failed to identify their location, plans and their role in the murders.

According to the report, a police raid in 1998 on a garage rented by Mundlos had found an address book that included contact details of one such informant who worked for the federal domestic intelligence agency.

Police officer Sven Wunderlich who took part in investigations to arrest the neo-Nazi trio at that time, underlined that domestic intelligence did not share timely information with the police and even at times hid information.

"The father of Uwe Mundlos had said that he had received an anonymous letter claiming that Beate Zschaepe was a source for the domestic intelligence agency," Wunderlich told the committee, further sparking doubts about the role of the secret service and intelligence.

Zschaepe is currently the main suspect under arrest for the NSU murder, but she has refused to give testimony.

Many questions related to the NSU murders are yet to be resolved, as dozens of domestic intelligence secret files were destroyed in late 2011.

The intelligence agency had acknowledged in 2011 past wrongdoings in effectively struggling against the far right and promised "comprehensive reforms." However, it denied any connection between employees and the NSU murders.

A high-profile trial into the NSU -- which started in May 2013 and broke for the summer this month -- could not shed light into the NSU murders.

It will resume September 4 and is expected to continue for at least another year.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Ağustos 2014, 10:30

Muhammed Öylek