German probe of armed neo-Nazis sees second arrest

13th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Police have arrested a second suspect in the murder of nine people of foreign origin, officials said Sunday, in a case which has raised fears of a "Brown Army Faction" of violent extremists in Germany.

The arrests have prompted some media and politicians to question whether the intelligence services may have used the suspects as informants on the neo-Nazi movement.

A 37-year-old identified only as Holger G. was arrested near the northern German city of Hannover and is suspected of being part of a far-right terror network, the Federal Prosecutor's Office said.

He is suspected of having helped three others in the 2000 to 2006 unsolved killings of nine people -- eight of Turkish origin and one of Greek descent -- and the 2007 shooting of a policewoman.

The discovery of a pistol used in the murder of the nine people in the home of a 36-year-old woman, identified as Beate Z., a suspected neo-Nazi, prompted the investigation by federal prosecutors.

She had turned herself in after blowing up the flat she rented in the eastern town of Zwickau. She had been wanted by police for questioning over an armed robbery in the eastern Jena region on November 4.

Two suspects in that robbery, who were close to Beate Z. in the neo-Nazi scene, were found dead in a caravan shortly afterwards. Investigators believe the two committed suicide.

Inside the caravan police found the firearm of the policewoman who was killed by a shot to her head in the southern town of Heilbronn in 2007 -- a murder that has never been solved.

Holger G. is suspected of helping the three by allowing them to use his driver's licence and passport but his exact role will be probed, the prosecutor's office said.

The suspected neo-Nazi case has made headlines across the German press with references to a "Brown Army Faction" after the now defunct left-wing "Red Army Faction" that killed more than 30 people between the 1970s and 1990s.

Some media and politicians have questioned how the suspects could have escaped for 13 years when in 1998 a homemade bomb factory was found in a garage rented by the woman.

Thomas Oppermann, the head of the opposition Social Democrats' parliamentary grouping, told Sunday's mass-circulation Bild newspaper he would seek a special meeting of parliament's committee that oversees the secret services.

"I want to know what the authorities knew and how such criminal acts can better be prevented in future," he told the paper.

Wolfgang Bosbach, the head of the parliamentary committee in charge of domestic political issues, also told Bild: "It must be clarified how it was possible for the trio to have lived underground unchecked for 10 years."

© 2011 AFP

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