November 29, 2011

German police arrest suspect in neo-Nazi cell investigation

Neo-Nazi suspect, 34, believed to have aided six murders and an attempted murder
German police have arrested a man they suspect of assisting in six murders and an attempted murder carried out by a neo-Nazi cell uncovered this month.

The case has highlighted Germany's failure to eradicate rightwing extremism.

Prosecutors said the 36-year-old suspect was arrested in Jena, a city in the eastern state of Thuringia, where the cell was based.

Investigators believe the cell, which called itself the Nationalist Socialist Underground, has killed eight Turks, a Greek and a 22-year-old policewoman since 2000. It is also suspected of carrying out two bomb attacks and 14 bank robberies across the country, prosecutors have said.

The case has dominated German headlines for weeks, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has vowed to intensify the fight against the far right.

A statement by the federal prosecutor's office said the suspect was believed to have assisted in six murders and one attempted murder.

"He is suspected of acquiring a gun with ammunition for the group in 2001 or 2002 … and was aware the weapon could be used in a rightwing murder attempt," the statement said.

Investigators said the suspect had been active in rightwing extremist circles since 1995, and had known and financially supported three gang members.

"Due to his long-term contact with the group, which was living with false identities, he knew of their terrorist crimes," the statement said.

Prosecutors have said the Nationalist Socialist Underground cell was "motivated by xenophobic and subversive thinking" and that its goal was to kill citizens, mainly those with foreign roots, and carry out bombing attacks.

The Guardian

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