Germans arrest former NPD functionary as terrorist linked to murder spree
Police in Germany have arrested a former functionary in the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), Ralf Wohlleben, on suspicion of having assisted the trio of right-wing extremists from Zwickau accused of committing at least 10 murders, mostly of immigrants, between 2000 - 2007. The newspaper Leipziger Volkszeitung is also reporting that there is evidence showing that Beate Zschäpe, a member of the terrorist group, was an informer for the German security forces, who allegedly covered up her identity. In the Czech Republic, the Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS), led by Tomáš Vandas, works closely with the NPD.
The Federal Prosecutor has announced that the 36-year-old Wohlleben is suspected of supporting the "National Socialist Underground" (NSU), as the trio of alleged racist murderers - Uwe Böhnhardt, Uwe Mundlos and Zschäpe - called themselves. Investigators are charging the former NPD functionary with aiding and abetting six murders and one attempted murder.
"The defendant is justifiably suspected of having provided munitions and weaponry to the NSU in 2001 or 2002," said the Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe. Wohlleben is alleged to have maintained contact with the neo-Nazi trio starting in the 1990s. "He gave munitions and a weapon to a courier and instructed him to deliver them to the NSU members in Zwickau," prosecutors say. He is also alleged to have assisted the trio financially.
The German media is reporting that Wohlleben is a well-known figure in neo-Nazi circles. Between 1999 and 2008 he was part of the broader NPD leadership. From 2006 to 2008 he was even a deputy to the regional leader of the party in Thuringia. Until last year, he also managed an NPD cell in Jena, the hometown of the three alleged murderers.
German politicians are once again discussing banning the NPD in relation to this case. Berlin attempted to ban the party several years ago, but in 2003 the motion was blocked by the Constitutional Court. German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich is also planning to create an extensive database of neo-Nazis.
Wohlleben is the fourth person arrested in relation to the murder spree, which claimed the lives of eight Turkish small business owners, one Greek man, and a German policewoman. The group is also said to be responsible for more than 10 bank robberies as well as bomb attacks. Friedrich previously said the circle of suspects in the case includes about a dozen people.
Zschäpe and two of her accomplices are already in custody. One of the accomplices allegedly leased the vehicles used by the NSU to commit the murders, while the other is allegedly the creator of an animated video in which the group confesses to their crimes. However, according to all of the available information, all three are still refusing to testify. Two of the main figures in the terrorist trio, Böhnhard and Mundlos, reportedly committed suicide on 4 November when faced with the threat of arrest.
The group has managed to evade German authorities since 1998. This fact has already prompted speculation that they were linked to counter-intelligence services. The daily Leipziger Volkszeitung reported that Zschäpe was "covered by the state" because she was an informer. The paper said this last known living member of the NSU gave police information about the extreme-right scene. She allegedly had as many as five cover names during her time with them.
In the Czech Republic, the DSSS has concluded a manifesto on cooperation with the NPD. The parties want to jointly focus on promoting measures against immigration and on cross-border cooperation at municipal level.
NPD chair Udo Voigt was invited to the Czech Republic this year by the DSSS. Four years ago, he publicly doubted the extent of the number of Jewish people murdered during the Second World War and demanded the return of territory lost by Germany after 1945. NPD members and persons sympathizing with the party have been tried several times by German courts over their revisionist speeches and statements bordering on Holocaust denial.
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