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Germany

Germany Releases Couple Held After Neo-nazi Attack

A Munich couple held in connection with the suspected far-right stabbing of a police chief in southern Germany were released from custody for lack of evidence.

Alois Mannichl speaking to journalists

Passau's police chief Mannichl, left, was stabbed at his front door by a skinhead

Two suspects in Germany thought to be involved in the right-wing stabbing of a police chief were released on Tuesday with police saying there was no evidence against them.

Alois Mannichl, chief of police in the southern city of Passau, says he was knifed by a shaven-headed, tattooed man on December 13 at the door of his home. The 52-year-old had to undergo emergency surgery but survived.

Public prosecutor Helmut Walch speaking at a press conference

Senior public prosecutor Helmut Walch announces the release of the Munich couple

The attack raised fears in Germany of neo-Nazis resorting to violence, but the assailant, who yelled rightist abuse, has not been caught. So far four suspects have been detained, but all of them have been released.

Mannichl unable to identify suspects

In Passau, a police spokesman said a 33-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman from Munich had been under suspicion as accessories, but no evidence had been found against them or any of their neo-Nazi friends. Earlier, two Passau rightists were held, but released after Mannichl was shown their photographs. He said neither was the assailant. Since then wanted posters have been issued, using drawings of two men from Mannichl's descriptions.

Those drawings show men with unusual tattoos on their scalps, but police say they have no firm evidence of the assailant's identity. Police say it is possible the drawings show one and the same man.

Candlelight vigil against neo-Nazis

On Monday evening, 500 people gathered in the rain on the market square of Fuerstenzell, the Passau suburb where Mannichl lives, for a candlelight vigil to denounce neo-Nazis.

Skinheads

Mannichl is known for his strong stand against right-wing extremism

Leaving hospital last week, Mannichl said he would not be intimidated and vowed to continue fighting right-wing extremists. Overt neo-Nazi campaigning is a crime in Germany. The chief of police has been vilified on Web sites popular with neo-Nazis after the rightists put a Nazi flag on a sympathizer's coffin before burial in a Passau cemetery. Mannichl ordered the grave dug up to seize the flag as evidence.

One of Germany's police unions, DPG, appealed Tuesday for 500 extra police to be hired to "patrol" the Internet and trawl neo-Nazi Web sites to uncover neo-Nazi intentions and gather evidence of hate speech.

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