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Investigators say neo-Nazi group had more helpers

German authorities believe the neo-Nazi group allegedly behind a string of immigrant murders in the past may have had a bigger network than previously assumed. The case continues to raise many questions.

Boots of neo-Nazi members

Authorities are being accused of ignoring right-wing terror

German media reports say that the right-wing extremist group "National Socialist Underground" may have had far more supporters than was previously known.

A report by German ARD television said the three-person group from the state of Thuringia had a helper in Saxony. The man, a self-declared neo-Nazi living in Johanngeorgenstadt, is alleged to have rented apartments for the band in the city of Zwickau, ARD said.

Another man has already been arrested in Lower Saxony.

The chairman of the Bundestag's parliamentary oversight committee, Thomas Oppermann, said after a meeting on Tuesday that "there is evidence of more helpers." A report in the daily “Berliner Zeitung” on Wednesday said investigators had a handful of suspects.

Immigrant murders

Murder victims

Most of the murders occurred in western Germany

The group of two men and a woman is alleged to have murdered nine shopkeepers of Turkish and Greek descent and a policewoman in Germany from 2000 to 2007.

Police believe it may also have been behind a bomb attack and several bank robberies in the western city of Cologne.

They are also re-examining all unsolved cases since 1998 that may have been motivated by racism.

Lack of cooperation

Two alleged male members of the group are dead, having committed suicide to avoid being arrested.

The alleged female member is in custody. The newspaper "Stuttgarter Nachrichten" has quoted investigators as saying that she is prepared to give testimony.

The case has raised many questions regarding the lack of cooperation between German domestic intelligence services and police, in view of the fact that the group operated over such a long period of time without being detected.

It also casts doubt on the practice of recruiting members of extremist organizations as informers for the intelligence agencies. Critics say that the large amounts of money invested in such informers has not paid off and that it has sometimes been used to finance right-wing organizations.

There are even suspicions that members of "National Socialist Underground" may themselves have been working for the agencies.

Central neo-Nazi register

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has called for dangerous neo-Nazis to be listed in a new central register.

NPD rally

The NPD has entered several state parliaments in Germany

He told the Wednesday edition of the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" that the new neo-Nazi file should be structured like the existing file on dangerous Islamists and contain information gleaned by intelligence agencies and police at a federal and state level.

The case has also sparked new attempts by Chancellor Angela Merkel and leading members of her Christian Democrats to see if the far right National Democratic Party (NPD) can be outlawed.

A previous attempt in 2001 to ban the party was rejected in 2003 by Germany's highest court, the Federal Constitutional Court. The court ruled that too many informers had infiltrated NPD ranks.

Author: Timothy Jones (dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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