Berlin police allegedly wasted three hours after December's truck attack before initiating a city-wide search for suspects. Terrorist Anis Amri had ample time to flee, says an inquiry report cited by German media.
The internal report cited by Berlin's Morgenpost newspaper, public RBB broadcaster and the magazine Focus depicted chaotic police handling of the situation as Anis Amri fled Berlin unhindered towards Italy via other European countries.
Only three hours later did Berlin's own state protection agency initiate a city-wide search for potential suspects or "Gefährder" (endangerers in German).
It took another two hours before nationwide police checks were launched, according to the 120-page internal police inquiry report cited by the outlets.
Amri, who was shot dead in Milan by Italian police four days later, had driven a hijacked truck into Christmas market booths at central Berlin's Breitscheid square, killing 12 people and injuring more than 60 other persons.
Berlin's police command delays are attributed in the report to unclear flows of information to a local commander, the erroneous detention of a Pakistani, and a police wrangle over who should formally initiate the search.
Also based in Berlin is a Joint Counterterrorism Center (GTAZ) that is supposed to coordinate work between Germany's 16 states, including the city-state of Berlin, and federal police and intelligence authorities.
"For the local commander a singular coordination of the [police] operation was not perceptible,” according to a quote published by Focus.
Not all commanding officers knew about a contingency plan drafted in case of terror attacks, it added.
"The months-long secretiveness over these findings make the retention of Berlin top police command untenable,” Luthe told Radio Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB). Luthe is a member of Berlin's interior affairs committee.