A year after a scandal involving murders allegedly committed by a neo-Nazi terror cell came to light, politicians and immigrant group leaders say much needs to be done to make sure this never happens again.
The chairman of the parliamentary committee looking into the work of police who investigated the series of murders now attributed to right-wing extremists told a press conference in Berlin that major changes were needed, to ensure that this could not happen again.
"What we have here is a problem of structure and mentality," Sebastian Edathy, a Social Democrat member of the Bundestag said. "If the structures aren't changed, things won't get better," he added.
Edathy said the investigations into the murders of nine migrants and one police officer had been hindered by the fact that many of the investigators were in denial about the possibility of far-right terror in Germany.
"We need more sensitivity within the authorities," the opposition politician said.
The chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, Kenan Kolat, told reporters that the scandal had revealed what he described as Germany's "huge" racism problem. Kolat said many people in Germany questioned whether there was the will within the authorities to really get to the bottom of the matter.
It doesn't appear as if "the political class has understood that we are dealing with the biggest security scandal since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany," Kolat said.
Earlier, Germany's justice minister reiterated a call for major reforms to the country's security services.
"We need to repair the entire security architecture, in order to restore trust," Sabine Leutheusser-Scharrenberger said in an interview published in Thursday's edition of the Passauer Neue Presse daily. At the same time though, she warned against limiting the search for a solution to just the police or intelligence services.
"Incidents of extreme-right-motivated violence have been and remain an everyday occurrence, and this can become radicalized," Leutheusser-Scharrenberger said. She added that right-wing extremist networks reached from the fringes into mainstream society.
The 10 murders in question, committed between 2000 and 2007 are believed to have been committed by an extreme-right group known as the National Socialist Underground. It came to light after two of its members were found dead in the eastern city of Zwickau in an apparent double suicide one year ago on November 4. A third, female suspect is in custody awaiting trial.
Among other things, the government has set up a national register of neo-Nazis in an effort to make it easier for the intelligence services or police to determine whether criminal acts are linked to far-fight groups.
pfd/hc (dpa, EPD)