A German parliamentary report blames police incompetence for failing to link a series of murders allegedly committed by a neo-nazi gang. Critics fault the report for not addressing claims of institutional racism.
After a year and a half of hearings, the commission, made up of members of parliament, handed in its findings in Berlin on Thursday. Opposition Social Democrat Sebastian Edathy, who chaired the inquiry, said the committee attributed the failures to sweeping incompetence by investigative agencies.
“This was a failure by the authorities without historical parallel,” he told a radio interviewer before the release of the 1,000-page report.
The committee was assigned to look into the work of German police and intelligence services that investigated the murders of eight Turkish merchants, a Greek man, and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007. Police only connected the crimes to the self-styled National Socialist Underground (NSU) four years after the last killing, a revelation that sparked national outrage.
The inquiry concluded that authorities failed to follow up on clues, such as sightings of the neo-Nazis, and that they worked under false assumptions because of institutional racism. It also concluded security authorities refused to share data with one another due to competition. The report suggested 47 reforms to ensure there is no repeat of such serial killings.
However, Edathy rejected the suggestion that the authorities had deliberately ignored indications racism was a motive behind the murders.
“We found no indication that the authorities knew who was behind the crimes at the time they were committed or that they looked the other way or supported the perpetrators,” he said.
Edathy also emphasized the importance of prevention in the fight against right-wing extremism. There must be policy to ensure, “that young people do not drift into such a inhumane ideological world view.
Turkey praises inquiry
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who was in Berlin, praised Germany’s “very resolute” investigation of the murders. He thanked the federal government after a meeting with his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle.
Westerwelle said that the investigation of the murders was “not only an important measure to clarify here in Germany, it is also an important signal of building confidence in the world.” Terrorism and extremism have “no place in Germany and are pursued rigorously,” he said.
A parliamentary debate on the report will take place on September 2.
Police didn’t connect the murders to the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a far-right cell, until two of its members were found dead in November of 2011. The two suspects are thought to have robbed a bank near the eastern city of Eisenach before taking their own lives to avoid arrest.
“November 4, 2011, when the trio was discovered, was to us what September 11, 2001, was to the Americans,” Edathy told the DPA news agency. “It was the day we realized that our complete security architecture in Germany was not attuned to things like far-right terrorism.”
The only surviving member of the cell, Beate Zschäpe, is accused of burning down their apartment in the eastern city of Zwickau to help cover up their tracks.
She is one of four suspects currently on trial on accusations of aiding and abetting the alleged murderers.
hc/dr (AFP, dpa, epd)