German minister calls for registry of neo-Nazis

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Germany's interior minister called Wednesday for a national registry of neo-Nazis similar to a list of known Islamists in response to revelations of at least 10 murders by a far-right cell.

Hans-Peter Friedrich told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that a national database should compile "data about violent right-wing extremists and politically motivated violent acts by the right-wing."

After blistering criticism of gross errors in the decade-long investigation of the 10 murders, Friedrich said that domestic intelligence bureaus and police on the federal and state level should be required to hand in relevant data.

The aim would be to identify links between crimes and the possible development of criminal networks.

Chancellor Angela Merkel this week called the murder of nine shopkeepers of mainly Turkish origin and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007 by a small group calling itself the National Socialist Underground "shameful for Germany".

Federal prosecutors took over the probe last week after the discovery of the pistol used in the killings in the home of a 36-year-old woman, Beate Zschaepe, a self-confessed neo-Nazi.

Wanted by police for questioning over an armed robbery in the eastern city of Jena on November 4, she had turned herself in after blowing up a rented flat in nearby Zwickau, presumably to destroy evidence.

Two suspects in the robbery, who were close to Zschaepe in the far-right scene, were found dead in a caravan shortly afterwards in an apparent suicide.

Inside the caravan police found another firearm, that of the policewoman killed by a shot to her head in the southern town of Heilbronn in 2007.

In a chilling DVD left behind by the two men, Uwe Mundlos, 38, and Uwe Boehnhardt, 34, they admitted to the unsolved murders of eight men of Turkish origin and a Greek between 2000 and 2006 as well as the policewoman.

The killings had long been called the "kebab murders" because some of the victims ran snack shops.

Police are also examining possible links to other attacks targeting immigrants and Germany's Jewish community over a 13-year period.

Zschaepe and another suspected accomplice are in custody as police investigate whether they were working with a possible wider network of militants.

Authorities are under pressure to explain how the group was able to operate with impunity for years and why they did not zero in on the far-right scene at an earlier stage.

© 2011 AFP

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