Germany: Right-wing extremist database to be created
The recently revealed series of neo-Nazi murders has set the German Interior Ministry the aim of creating a database of dangerous right-wing extremists. German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich announced the idea after meeting with the German Justice Minister and representatives of intelligence bodies today. A special security center focused on the battle against the ultra-right will also be set up. The model for the planned neo-Nazi database, according to Friedrich, will be the already-existing register of Islamic radicals created by Germany after 11 September 2001.
It has also come to light that the German Police had the opportunity, in 1998, to arrest the trio who would later go on to perpetrate the neo-Nazi murder spree. However, police called off an intervention against them at the last moment, according to the MDR television station, which referenced information from detectives today. MDR reports that for the time being it is not yet clear why that operation was halted. Special commando units had been readied to arrest the trio in 1998.
Because of previous errors in the investigation of the murder spree case, the agencies meeting today agreed to improve their cooperation and to intensify exchanges of information between the Federal Criminal Bureau and counter-intelligence services, which supervise the surveillance of extremists. The center for protection against ultra-right threats which Friedrich also announced today is supposed to aid that effort. The model for that institution will be a center that evaluates information on Islamist terrorist threats which was established by Germany in 2004.
According to German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, debate will continue on the possible ban of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). Many German politicians have been calling for a ban on the party during the past few days. However, the Justice Minister said Berlin would only file such a motion in the event that it would be certain the German Constitutional Court will not block it again as it did in 2003.
German detectives discovered the three-member neo-Nazi group from Zwickau at the start of this month. Members of the group allegedly shot at least 10 people throughout the country between 2000 and 2007, most of them immigrants who owned small businesses. In addition to these so-called "döner murders", Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Böhnhardt and their accomplice Beate Zschäpe are said to be responsible for bank robberies and probably even bomb attacks.
Mundlos and Böhnhardt committed suicide before they could be arrested. Zschäpe is in custody and is refusing to testify for the time being. Investigators have also arrested an alleged accomplice of the trio who supposedly arranged vehicles for them and provided them with personal identification.
The so-called "National Socialist Underground", as the group called itself, might have been much bigger. German High State Prosecutor Harald Range announced today that detectives have their sights on other possible accomplices. Reuters reports that Range spoke of four persons at today's inter-agency meeting, two of whom are allegedly under investigation.
According to the German media, police have discovered a list with about 10 000 names compiled by the alleged murder spree perpetrators. Deutsche-Presse Agentur reports that the list includes the names of churches, clubs, political party organizations and politicians who had taken a stand against the extreme right. However, investigators are said to be hesitant to view it as a "blacklist" of potential targets. Detectives previously found another list compiled by the neo-Nazi trio of 88 such names, including two high-ranking German MPs.
The case also has an international dimension, as the pistol with which the group allegedly committed all of the murders discovered so far came from Switzerland. According to the Swiss press, it was sold by the Czech-Swedish businessman Jan Luxík. However, it is not yet clear how it got into the hands of the neo-Nazis in eastern Germany. The Swedish press is speculating that the trio may have been linked to Swiss ultra-right formations.
The Germans have not yet contacted the Czech authorities regarding the case. "As of now the Organized Crime Detection Unit (Útvar pro odhalování organizovaného zločinu - ÚOOZ) has not received a request from the German side to provide coordination," ÚOOZ spokesperson Pavel Hanták told the Czech Press Agency. Jaroslav Ibehej, spokesperson for the Czech Police Presidium, gave a similar statement.
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