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Saxony justice minister admits mistakes following suspected terrorist's death

Saxony Justice Minister Sebastian Gemkow has admitted that his department is in need of reform following terror suspect Jaber Albakr's suicide. This has sparked outrage in Germany and calls for Gemkow to step down.

For the first time since terror suspect Jaber Albakr committed suicide while in police custody, Gemkow conceded that Saxony's law enforcement officials made mistakes, in remarks published on Sunday.

"We all have to learn about how to deal with Islamist prisoners," the state's justice minister told German daily "Bild am Sonntag." He added that it was "obvious" that Saxony's current procedures for providing safe prisoner accommodations were "not enough."

Gemkow said it was possible that Islamist terror suspects commit suicide in order to purposefully make investigations more difficult.

"We weren't sufficiently prepared for this case in Saxony," the state's justice minister told the newspaper.

Watch video 00:44

Gemkow: This should not have happened

'Procedures for jihadists'

In light of regional law enforcement's inexperience in dealing with Islamist terror suspects, the head of Germany's main police union, Rainer Wendt, told the newspaper that experts should be brought in.

"In cases where the federal prosecutor takes over, a task force of specialists should immediately intervene," Wendt said.

Burkhard Lischka, the internal affairs spokesman for the center-left Social Democrats, also called for a rethink of law enforcement procedures in cases of alleged terrorism.

"We need special procedures for jihadists," he said.

Controversy in Saxony

In a raid on Albakr's Chemnitz apartment last Saturday - during which the suspect apparently escaped - police found 1.5 kilograms (3.30 pounds) of TATP, a dangerous homemade explosive.

Albakr was handed over to police after a two-day manhunt, but he committed suicide in his cell in Leipzig on Wednesday. He is suspected of planning an attack on a Berlin airport.

During a press conference on Thursday, Gemkow said Saxony authorities found "no acute danger of suicide." Despite calls from several opposition lawmakers for him to step down, he said he did not see a reason to resign.

rs/kl   (AFP, dpa)

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