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Seehofer fires head of BAMF refugee agency

June 15, 2018

Germany's interior minister has fired the head of the country's refugee agency after a scandal over improper asylum decisions came to light. The immigration issue threatens to splinter Angela Merkel's conservative bloc.

Horst Seehofer and Jutta Cordt
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/K. Nietfeld

Seehofer dismissed the head of Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, Jutta Cordt, it was revealed on Friday, as divisions over immigration deepened at the top of Germany's ruling coalition.

Cordt had been under heavy criticism after aninternal review by BAMF found that the agency's Bremen branch had regularly and knowingly ignored legal and internal regulations.

An Interior Ministry spokesman told the DPA news agency that Seehofer had informed Cordt of his decision to dismiss her on Wednesday.

The allegations over Bremen date back to the 2013-16 period. Cordt only took over the agency in 2017.

Opposition lawmaker Linda Teuteberg of the pro-business Free Democrats said Cordt had been a "sacrificial lamb."

However, Andrea Lindhaus, a CSU ally of Seehofer, said Cordt had "done a good job, but replacing her is the only way to re-establish trust for a new start."

Read more: Going undercover at Germany's BAMF refugee agency

Seehofer's actions come as he seeks to toughen the German government's stance on migration, with a plan to reject those with no documentation and individuals seeking re-entry after deportation. The interior minister, from the CSU Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), has also said refugees who have already registered in another European Union country should be rejected.

Merkel has expressed opposition to such measures, fearing they could increase the refugee burden for other countries and undermine EU solidarity.

Read more: Analysis - Did Angela Merkel bring this political blow on herself?

Earlier on Friday, Seehofer told the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that Merkel had caused "a split in Europe" by allowing hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany in 2015.

rc/msh (dpa, Reuters)