Germany's Interior Ministry has pledged to support an investigation into allegations that police tortured migrants in Hanover. The NGO Pro Asyl calls the reports evidence of "an appalling level of racism."
A spokesman for Germany's Interior Minister called reports that police tortured migrants in Hanover "grave." In an exclusive aired Sunday, the public radio and television broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) detailed at least two incidents of violence against migrants in custody.
The spokesman promised the "full powers" of the Interior Ministry, which oversees the national "Bundespolizei" police force, in support of the inquiry. The Bundespolizei is primarily tasked with guarding borders and transit centers, such as the Hanover train station, where the attacks reportedly took place.
Günter Burkhardt, the head of German NGO Pro Asyl, demanded a broad investigation. "The whole cesspool must be exposed," he said on Monday.
Dietmar Schilff, the leader of the Lower Saxony branch of the GdP police officers' trade union, said that the case "could not be pardoned," and warned of further-reaching consequences. "Even if this is an isolated case, as it's currently being portrayed, the concern remains that our image has already been damaged," Schilff said.
'Like a pig'
According to NDR, evidence implicates multiple officers; the boots belonging to two officers are visible in a photo shared online, for instance, in which a young man is cuffed and curled up against a wall. An unnamed official from the Hanover federal police told NDR that the abuse went beyond the two cases detailed by the broadcaster, both involving 19-year-old noncitizens.
NDR reported that the officer bragged to colleagues via text message. In September 2014, the officer wrote in a text message that the prisoner - who had tolerated migration status but had been arrested after failing to produce a ticket for a regional train ride - had eaten (or been forced to eat) rancid leftover pork, forbidden in Islam, from the station refrigerator "off the floor."
The other case involved an Afghan arrested at the station in March 2014 for not having authorization to be in Germany. According to NDR, the officer told a colleague via text that he dragged the teenager across the station floor and stuck his finger up his nose, causing the prisoner to squeal "like a pig."
Prosecutors will look into whether other officers participated. The federal police office has decline comment, except to announce that it would cooperate with the investigation and that the suspected assailant had not returned to work since the inquiry began.
Other recent reports allege assaults at migrant detention centers or halfway houses. The head of a national police union called for cameras in holding cells for the protection of both officers and prisoners.
mkg/msh (AFP, dpa, KNA, epd)