Two more suspects in German far-right case

 

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Investigators suspect two more people may have supported an underground neo-Nazi terror cell alleged to have killed 10 people and pulled off a string of bank robberies, Germany's top prosecutor said today.

Harald Range, who took over as federal prosecutor a day ago, said authorities were investigating the extent that two possible suspects may have been linked to the National Socialist Underground group, which is suspected of murdering eight people of Turkish origin, one person with Greek roots and a policewoman.

Two people, one alleged co-founder and another supporter, have already been arrested and face charges for involvement with the group. Two other known group members were found dead in apparent suicides.

Range refused to give any further information about the two possible suspects, citing the ongoing investigation.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich and Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger had called Range and other members of Germany's security community to Berlin for a crisis meeting, under criticism that the system failed to detect and stop the neo-Nazis for a more than a decade.

The ministers announced details of a national center focusing on far-right extremists to be set up in an effort to better share information between Germany's 32 police and state domestic intelligence agencies. A similar center was set up to combat Islamic terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

"Nobody is to have the impression, especially our fellow citizens from minority groups, that we do not do enough to combat far-right extremism," Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said.

The investigation into the group's activities has spiraled into a nationwide search of previously unsolved crimes, including attacks in Cologne and Duesseldorf from 2000 to 2004 that are now linked to them. Those attacks injured more than 30 people, mostly of foreign origin.

Range, whose office took over the investigation last Friday under German anti-terrorism laws, said prosecutors face tremendous pressure to examine an influx of information and evidence that has continued to pour in since the case first came to light on Nov. 4.

"We are trying to pull the many facts into a complete picture," Range said. Prosecutors from other German states and districts who have experience in prosecuting far-right crimes have been called in to help speed the investigation, he said.

He noted that pressure from the German public was also extreme.

"We need to produce results," Range said.

AP

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