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Thousands of people turned out in Kassel to protest local politician Walter Lübcke's death, and right-wing extremism. Two men were arrested for supplying weapons to the suspect who confessed to the killing.
Thousands of people turned out in Kassel on Thursday afternoon under banners reading "Flag for diversity," and "Together we are strong" to mark the death of Walter Lübcke, the head of the Kassel regional government. As a local politician, Lübcke had spoken up for refugees and outsiders.
The rally of up to 10,000 people against right-wing extremism, hatred and hate speech was attended by politicians, bishops and community leaders as well as local residents.
Bishop Martin Hein said: "Whoever violates the dignity of people, in violence or in words, puts himself outside our democratic community. There are no ifs, ands or buts."
The director of the state theater, Thomas Bockelmann, condemned the killing and how hate speech had been used against Lübcke online by "cowardly people who in the anonymity of the Internet wanted to feel powerful." Bockelmann suggested the rally could be the start of protection for democracy.
The 65-year-old Lübcke was a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). He was known for taking a welcoming stance on refugees and had received death threats in the past.
Two more detained
Earlier on Thursday, authorities detained two men on suspicion of supplying and selling weapons to the suspect, named as 45-year-old Stephan Ernst from Kassel, who stands accused of murder in the slaying of Lübcke, on June 2.
Ernst confessed to the shooting, saying he killed Lübcke because of his political views. He reportedly gave police the names of the men who supplied him with the guns.
Federal prosecutors are investigating the two men, named as 64-year-old Elmar J. and 43-year-old Markus H., on suspicion of being accessories to murder. The older man is alleged in 2016 to have sold what investigators believe to be the weapon used against Lübcke, and the younger suspect is believed to have facilitated contacts.
It is unclear if the latest suspects have ties to the neo-Nazi scene, but investigators reportedly found Nazi paraphernalia in one suspect's home.
The federal prosecutor's office said Thursday that there was no initial indication that Elmar J. or Markus H. were part of, or knew about, the plans to kill Lübcke, or that the three had formed an extremist or terror group.
However, investigators believe the two suspects knew of Ernst's ties to the right-wing extremist scene.
A known right-wing extremist
Ernst, who was previously known to authorities as a right-wing extremist, handed investigators a confession on Wednesday. That confession, according to broadcasters WDR and NDR and the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, contained information on his cache of weapons and how he had secured them.
In addition to the 9mm handgun believed to be the weapon used, Ernst confessed to having a shotgun and Uzi-style submachine gun.
Investigators found five weapons on property belonging to the suspect's employer.
The self-confessed killer has said he acted alone, but investigators are trying to uncover any potential right-wing extremist network behind the killing.
cw,jm/sms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)
Editor's note: Deutsche Welle follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases. In this particular case, DW has decided to publish the full name of the self-confessed killer.