Germany probes suspected far-right killings

AP News
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Posted: Nov 11, 2011 4:25 PM
Germany probes suspected far-right killings

German prosecutors are investigating whether the killings of 10 people over a seven-year period were the work of a group of far-right extremists.

Federal prosecutors said Friday they were looking into the murders of eight people of Turkish origin and one Greek in several German cities between September 2000 and April 2006, as well as the killing of a police officer in the southwestern city of Heilbronn in April 2007.

The nine victims of the 2000-2006 killings were businessmen _ including a flower wholesaler, a tailor and a kebab stall owner _ who were shot at their workplaces.

The Heilbronn killing also has long been a mystery. The 22-year-old policewoman was fatally shot in the head in a park; a fellow officer was seriously wounded by gunshots and still can't remember what happened. Police were unable to find any witnesses.

Last week, however, both officers' service weapons were found in a burning mobile home in central Germany where two men were found dead, in what police have said was an apparent suicide.

Prosecutors said they then found the pistol used in the earlier killings at the men's apartment in the eastern city of Zwickau, which also burned out last week following an explosion.

The two men, identified only as Uwe B. and Uwe M. in line with German privacy rules, are believed to have had links to far-right circles at the end of the 1990s _ along with a female acquaintance, identified as Beate Z., who turned herself in to police on Tuesday, prosecutors said.

They said in a statement that evidence taken from the apartment in Zwickau "points to a far-right motivation for the murders."

Germany's acting chief federal prosecutor, Rainer Griesbaum, specified that DVDs were found which contained a propaganda film referring to a group calling itself the "National Socialist Underground" and also containing information regarding the killings of the businessmen.

Prosecutors said the investigation centers on potential charges against Beate Z. of membership in a domestic terrorist organization, murder, attempted murder and arson. In Germany, federal prosecutors are responsible for investigations that involve suspicions of terrorism.

They said one aspect of the investigation was whether any "further people from far-right circles" were involved in the killings.

Germany's far right is small, splintered and politically marginalized, but concern flares periodically about violence by extremists against immigrants and others. Germany is home to some 3 million people of Turkish origin.

If the suspicions of a far-right motivation in this case are confirmed, "this would be a new dimension in the brutality of neo-Nazis," the state interior ministry in Bavaria, where five of the killings took place, said in a statement.

It said the background to the murders must be "cleared up as quickly as possible and completely."