Two alleged far-right extremists have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the stabbing of a German police chief. The case has renewed calls in Germany for banning a far-right political party.
Skinheads are believed to be responsible for the stabbing
Investigators arrested a man and a woman on Wednesday, Dec. 18, in the near-fatal weekend stabbing of Passau police chief Alois Mannichl. A 33-year-old man and his wife, aged 22, were taken in for questioning on Tuesday after police traced the stabber's getaway car to them.
Lead investigator Alois Walch told the Associated Press on Thursday that the pair has been ordered by a court to be held on suspicion of accessory to attempted murder in the weekend stabbing of Mannichl. Investigators, however, are continuing to look for the perpetrator.
Though investigators did not say what exact role the suspects had played in the attack, witnesses report having seen the couple from Munich in the vicinity of the police official's house before the incident.
Targeting law enforcement
Mannichl was believed to have been targeted by far-right extremists because of his outspoken opposition to skinhead groups.
After the stabbing, the police chief's house became a crime scene
He was stabbed in the chest at his home with his own knife, which had been left outside the door of the Mannichl home to allow neighborhood children to cut slices of cake for themselves. He is in stable condition and recovering from the attack.
The assailant, whose head was shaved clean, is reported to have said at the time of the stabbing: "Greetings from the national resistance. You will no longer trample on the graves of our comrades, you leftist pig."
German neo-Nazis often refer to themselves as the "national resistance."
Renewed calls for banning of NPD
The violence, along with its implication that rightists are willing to attack public officials, has led to calls this week to outlaw Germany's main far right group, the National Democratic Party (NPD).
An earlier attempt to ban the anti-foreigner party was quashed by Germany's top court in 2003. German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries was quoted in a newspaper interview on Wednesday as saying she did not believe there was sufficient evidence to mount a new legal challenge against the NPD.
There are around 31,000 members of extreme right-wing groups in Germany, about 10,000 of whom are prepared to resort to violence, according to the domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.