Stabbing sparks calls for German neo-Nazi party ban
Passau police chief Alois Mannichl, known for his strong stand against right-wing extremists, was stabbed as he answered his doorbell at home.Berlin – German officials are up in arms over the stabbing of a police chief on the doorstep of his home by a suspected neo-Nazi and pledged to crack down on the far-right scene.
Saturday's attack, which left the officer seriously wounded, also sparked fresh calls for the banning of a notorious far-right party.
Alois Mannichl, known for his strong stand against right-wing extremists in the southern city of Passau, was stabbed as he answered his doorbell at home.
The attacker used a knife left by the police chief on his doorstep for visitors to cut themselves a slice of Christmas season cake, prosecutor Helmut Walch said, adding that he had opened a probe on charges of attempted murder.
The 52-year-old suffered a serious chest wound, close to the heart, and was rushed to hospital for an emergency operation. He was later said to be in stable condition.
Two suspects, said to be close to the far-right, were briefly detained overnight by police but later released without charges, Walch said.
Government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said the attack appeared to mark a new level of violence by the far-right.
"(It) shows the serious challenge posed to our law-governed state," he said. "The federal government will energetically fight back against enemies of freedom."
Walch said the assailant reportedly told the victim: "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.
According to the regional ministry, violent acts committed by neo-Nazis have more than doubled in the Passau region this year to 83, from 40 in 2007.
Police have registered about 950 attacks by far-right extremists across the country during the year, including one killing.
The head of the GdP police union, Konrad Freiberg, said the attack pointed to a new strategy on the part of the far-right.
"Before, right-wingers used to take care not to attack law enforcement officials, but now they're ready to resort to all-out violence," he told reporters. "This new strategy of directly attacking the police has been apparent since the start of the year."
The head of the federal parliament's home affairs' commission, Sebastian Edathy, said the attack showed the need to outlaw the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD), the most prominent of the legal right-wing extremist parties in Germany.
Banning the NPD "is absolutely necessary because it would help reduce the reach of the far-right for years to come," Edathy told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung.
In addition, "grievous bodily harm linked to far-right political motives should no longer be simply punished by suspended sentences," he added.
There has been no link established between the NPD and the Passau case.
But the NPD, a fringe group with only about 7,300 members, is the most radical of the extreme right parties in Germany with a platform which is openly anti-foreigner, racist and anti-Semitic.
It has no deputies in the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament.
But it does hold seats in two regional parliaments, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, both in depressed former communist east Germany.
The centre-left government of former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder attempted to ban the xenophobic party in 2002 but the country's highest tribunal rejected the bid as unconstitutional on technical grounds.
Attempts by mainstream politicians to stop the NPD from receiving state funding -- currently in line with the number of votes it receives in elections -- have been held up by fears the constitutional court might again strike down the move and give the far-right a public victory.