German neo-Nazis who murdered migrants had as many as 20 helpers
German news magazines Der Spiegel and Focus are reporting that German counter-intelligence services have information showing that the trio of neo-Nazis who committed at least 10 murders, predominantly of immigrants, throughout Germany between 2000 and 2007 had as many as 20 people helping them. According to the MDR television channel, the trio most probably also attempted the bombing of a residential hotel housing Portuguese workers in 1997 in the Thuringian town of Stadtrod. The attack did not succeed because the bomb's detonator failed.
According to Der Spiegel, German detectives are now investigating six people in connection with the case. For the time being only two are in custody: Beate Zschäpe, a member of the group calling itself the "National Socialist Underground" (NSU), and an alleged accomplice, Holger G., who investigators say provided identity cards and vehicles to the perpetrators. The other two known members of the group, Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, committed suicide at the start of this month.
Der Spiegel reports that Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe had succeeded in hiding from the authorities ever since 1998, even though at least three informers for the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (German counter-intelligence services) were active in their vicinity. That agency has received the most criticism over this case, and its role was being discussed yesterday by the Domestic Policy Committee of the German Federal Parliament. Sigmar Gabriel, head of the strongest opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD), has already called for Parliament to establish a special committee to investigate the matter.
MDR television reports that shortly before the NSU vanished from sight and moved to the Saxon town of Zwickau, its members most probably attempted to attack a residential hotel housing Portuguese "gastarbeiters" near the Thuringian town of Jena, where the extremist trio was active at the time. In December 1997, police found a bomb near a natural gas tank that was part of the building's heating system. Thanks to a flaw in the detonator, it never exploded.
German authorities intend to pay their respects to the victims of the neo-Nazi group - a young female police officer, one Greek and eight Turkish business people - at an official event. German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is also planning to compensate the victims' surviving family members. "The victims' families deserve our sympathy. Even though financial assistance cannot stop their pain, I will try to pay compensation for the victims out of my budget in order to make a gesture of solidarity toward their relatives," the minister explained.
Deutsche-Presse Agentur reports that the compensation for the surviving family members could be as high as EUR 10 000. A spokesperson for the Justice Minister said that amount would roughly correspond to the amount of money received in the past by the surviving family members of the victims of extremist or terrorist attacks.
Yesterday the German Parliament condemned the neo-Nazi group's crimes. Deutsche-Presse Agentur reports that the resolution passed unanimously. "We are extremely ashamed that after the horrible crimes of the National Socialist regime, ultra-right ideology has once again left its bloody traces on our country," the text of the resolution reads. German MPs also expect all of the ramifications of the murders to be clearly explained. "We owe it to the victims, their families and friends," the resolution reads.