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Prison guard admits leaking Chemnitz arrest warrant

August 31, 2018

Authorities were outraged after far-right groups shared an illegally-published arrest warrant tied to a stabbing that sparked anti-immigrant protests. With pressure mounting, a prison guard turned himself in.

Protesters carying an upside-down German flag gather in Chemnitz, Germany
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Hirschberger

A prison officer has been suspended after he admitted to illegally publishing an arrest warrant for a suspect in a deadly stabbing in Chemnitz, Saxony's Justice Ministry confirmed on Thursday.

The leak of this highly confidential document could hinder investigations into the crime and fuel tensions in Chemnitz, where violent demonstrations by far-right groups have taken place over the crime.

What we know:

  • The man who turned himself in was a prison guard who worked at a correctional facility in the eastern German city of Dresden.
  • The man was immediately suspended from his job and may face criminal charges after authorities conclude their investigation.
  • The 39-year-old said that he'd "photographed and passed along" the arrest warrant, according to a statement published by the man's lawyer on Facebook.
  • In the statement, the man said he knew that he would likely lose his job, but didn't realize that the act was possibly illegal.
  • He added that by publishing the arrest warrant, he hoped "to put and end to speculation about the sequence of events in the crime."

Minister slams 'irresponsible' action

Authorities in the eastern state of Saxony, where Chemnitz and Dresden are located, launched an investigation into who was behind the leak on Wednesday — as pressure grew and the search narrowed, the man eventually turned himself in.

Saxony's justice minister, Sebastian Gemkow, said that leaking confidential documents during an ongoing investigation was "irresponsible" and "a serious accusation."

"We cannot, therefore, tolerate it in any way if a public servant does such a thing and will take strict action against it," Gemkow said.

Arrest warrant circulated by the far-right: The partially blacked-out arrest warrant named the victims in a weekend attack in Chemnitz that sparked several days of far-right demonstrations. The warrant also revealed the name of the judge who will preside over the case as well as the suspect's personal details.

The document was shared online by Lutz Bachmann, the founder of the Dresden-based anti-immigrant PEGIDA, as well as the right-wing populist "Pro Chemnitz" movement and a local chapter of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). Bremen state lawmaker and right-wing populist Jan Timke also shared the document on Facebook.

What happened in Chemnitz: A 35-year-old German-Cuban man was killed and two other people were injured in an altercation early Sunday morning. Two suspects, a 22-year-old who was born in Iraq and a 23-year-old who was born in Syria, are currently in police custody over the stabbing.

Far-right groups then mobilized to protest the stabbing, emphasizing the suspects' foreign-born backgrounds to draw more supporters. The past few days of protests in Chemnitz have seen several people injured in clashes between far-right and counter-demonstrators, as well as people with foreign-backgrounds harrassed and attacked. Some of the far-right protesters also flashed the "Hitler salute," which is banned in Germany.

rs/rt (dpa, Reuters)

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