German security services under fire over neo-Nazi murders of migrants
By Frank Zeller ,AFPBERLIN -- A neo-Nazi murder spree targeting mostly Turkish migrants in Germany went unsolved for years largely because of institutional bias among police and security services, a parliamentary panel found Thursday.
August 24, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
Its chairman Sebastian Edathy labelled as “shameful” the investigative failures, bad communication and prejudice that allowed the so-called National Socialist Underground (NSU) to murder 10 people over seven years without being caught.
The whole case had been “a historically unprecedented disaster,” he said.
The NSU is now considered to have been a terrorist cell. Its surviving female member Beate Zschaepe is on trial, accused of lending vital support to the group's two gunmen who died in an apparent murder-suicide in late 2011.
Until then, police and the media had dubbed the nationwide series of assassination-style shootings, committed with the same Ceska handgun, the “doner (kebab) murders,” suspecting that Turkish crime groups were to blame.
German police and domestic intelligence services have since faced withering criticism for ingrained bias by associating terrorism only with far-left or Islamist groups, not neo-Nazis.
The case that shocked Germany has been studied for 19 months by an inter-party panel that, after questioning around 100 witnesses, on Thursday presented their more than 1,000-page report, arriving at unanimous conclusions.
Its members labeled the NSU case “a humiliating defeat for the German security and investigative agencies” and pointed to “massive institutional failures that resulted from a dramatic underestimation of the danger of the violent far-right.”
While cooperation and communication between Germany's 36 state and federal security services had been lacking, another cause was racial prejudice within them, the chairman told a press conference.
“Turks murder Turks — that seemed to be the thinking,” he said.
“That is what worries me most, because changing this will take us longer than amending laws ... We are not just dealing with structural problems but, in some offices, with problems of mentality.”