Bundestag votes to probe failings over neo-Nazi cell

By Bernard Josephs, August 29, 2013

A parliamentary inquiry has begun in Berlin following a series of racism-motivated murders carried out by a neo-Nazi cell which has been active for almost ten years.

Parties in the lower house of the German parliament — the Bundestag — have voted unanimously to set up a committee to investigate allegations that the country’s intelligence services and police did not properly investigate the murders.

Bundestag MPs have demanded a much tighter surveillance of neo-Nazi activities after investigating a series of murders targeting mainly ethnic Turks.

They said that Germany’s police and justice officials should exchange intelligence on neo-Nazis, improve training and recruit more ethnic minority officers to their ranks.

The parliamentary report condemns “major failures” by the security services, which, MPs said, failed to act against violent neo-Nazi cells accused of violence in Germany in recent years.

The members of the cross-party special committee made 47 recommendations highlighting lessons to be learnt from such “blunders”, which included a failure to explore racist motives and the use of unreliable undercover informers.

The committee’s chairman, Sebastian Edathy, who is of Indian origin, called the situation an “historically unprecedented disaster”. He handed a 1,000 page report to the president of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert.

“The danger of militant neo-Nazis must never again be underestimated,” said Mr Edathy, adding that the threat from such groups had been “trivialised”.

The parliamentary committee is expected to reveal how the extreme right-wing National Socialist Underground operated undetected from its base in Eastern Germany.

It will also try to unravel the structure of neo-Nazi cells and, crucially, establish whether they received any support from officers of the German intelligence services.

In a parliamentary debate, another member of the panel, left-wing MP Petra Pau, spoke of files that were missing, shredded or delayed and the use of incompetent witnesses by officials investigating racist murders.

Last updated: 10:45pm, August 29 2013