Stabbed German police chief vows to fight neo-Nazis

20th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

Alois Mannichl, known for his strong stand against right-wing extremists, was released from hospital after being stabbed by a skinhead last week.

Berlin -- A German police chief stabbed by a skinhead vowed to carry on fighting the neo-Nazis Friday as authorities in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic joined in the hunt for his attacker.

An ashen-faced Alois Mannichl, known for his strong stand against right-wing extremists, emerged from hospital to address reporters and pledged to press on with his work.

"We must continue to fight against the extreme right," he said. "I will not go into hiding," said the police chief from the southern German city of Passau, close to the Austrian and Czech borders.

The attacker, described as a skinhead with a tattoo, seriously wounded Mannichl by stabbing him in the chest after ringing his doorbell on Saturday.

He used a knife left by the police chief on his doorstep for visitors to cut themselves a slice of Christmas cake.

As Mannichl recovered from the stabbing, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that attacks by neo-Nazis represent a danger to all Germans.

"Whether as in this case it's a state official, or whenever other people fall prey to right-wing extremist attacks, these are attacks are against us all," she told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.

Saturday's attack fuelled renewed calls for the banning of a notorious far-right party.

"The federal and regional states must continue to stand up against this threat and fight in a determined manner all extreme right organizations," Merkel said.

The chancellor had told a news conference Thursday that the government was seriously considering ways to outlaw the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD), the most prominent of the legal far-right parties in Germany.

But Merkel also warned that "any action against the extreme right must be guaranteed to work as the worst result would be a second failure" to ban the NPD.

The previous center-left government had sought to ban the party, but the case was thrown out in 2003 by the Federal Constitutional Court, which said that testimony against the party was possibly tainted by police informers who had infiltrated it.

The NPD, a fringe group with about 7,300 members, campaigns on a platform, which is openly anti-foreigner, racist and anti-Semitic.

It holds no seats in the federal parliament, but is represented in two states in eastern Germany. The party had not been directly linked to the Passau stabbing.

Wilhelm Heitmeyer, a conflict and violence specialist at Bielefeld University, said banning the party might not be the best policy.

"Many other right-wing parties have been banned in Germany in the past, but the problem remains," he told AFP.

Meanwhile, police which have a special 50-strong task force working on the case, have detained a couple believed to be linked to the far-right on suspicion of abetting in the attack although they have not been charges.

Police in Austria and in the Czech Republic have also been asked to be on the lookout for the suspect who spoke with a strong southern German or Austrian regional accent.

At the time of the attack, the assailant reportedly told Mannichl: "Greetings from the national resistance," a term used by the neo-Nazi scene. "You're a leftist pig cop, and you will no longer hang around the graves of our comrades."

The comments appeared to refer to the funeral of a former neo-Nazi leader in the region, Friedhelm Busse, 79, who was buried this summer with a Nazi swastika flag, which is banned in Germany.

Police later reopened the tomb to remove the Nazi symbol.

Authorities have registered some 950 attacks by far-right extremists nationwide this year, including one killing.

Anne Padieu/AFP/Expatica

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