BERLIN — The German authorities disbanded an elite state police unit and suspended 18 of its lively members after they had been discovered to have been concerned in a chat group that exchanged racist messages and glorified the Nazis, the inside minister of Hesse stated on Thursday.
The transfer in opposition to the unit — roughly analogous to a S.W.A.T. crew in the US — in Frankfurt is the most recent by German authorities to clamp down on an increase in far-right networks in a number of state safety items and within the navy. Law enforcement officials in a number of states have been fired or reprimanded for his or her participation in such discussion groups, the place content material like swastikas, Hitler photos and anti-foreigner postings are shared over social media.
Within the central state of Hesse alone, the most recent revelations convey the variety of law enforcement officials who’ve been or are underneath investigation for far-right sympathies to just about 100. Günter Rudolph, a Social Democratic state lawmaker, described the Frankfurt case as providing “staggering proof of a profound drawback in Hesse’s police drive.”
The lately found chat group included three supervising officers of the elite squad, although they seem to have been inactive, making the disbandment of your complete unit unavoidable, in keeping with the state authorities.
The 18 suspended officers face expenses in reference to speaking symbols banned by the structure and racist hate content material, and the supervisors will face further expenses for failing to intervene or report the chats.
“The unacceptable misconduct of a number of members in addition to the turning a blind eye of speedy superiors within the S.E.Okay. Frankfurt has made its full dissolution essential,” Peter Beuth, the state inside minister of Hesse stated in an announcement, referring to the S.W.A.T.-like unit by its German initials.
Mr. Rudolph and different state lawmakers have criticized the police and conservative state authorities leaders, together with Mr. Beuth, for his or her inclination to dismiss episodes involving law enforcement officials with right-wing tendencies as solitary instances, ignoring the broader drawback of like-minded teams and people throughout the nation.
In essentially the most vital growth of the nation’s efforts to stamp out extremism in legislation enforcement and the navy, the defense ministry was forced last year to disband a full fighting company of the country’s most elite special forces unit, identified by its German initials, Okay.S.Okay., due to right-wing infiltration.
The authorities took the dramatic transfer after the authorities performed a wide-ranging investigation into far-right constructions throughout the unit and simply six weeks after authorities dug up an unlawful weapons cache within the yard of one of many firm’s troopers.
The chat room was most lively in 2016 and 2017, in keeping with officers, and it was discovered by coincidence when the cell units of a member of the unit had been analyzed for youngster pornography in an unconnected case.
The state lawyer’s workplace in Frankfurt has been investigating 20 males between the ages of 29 and 54 who belonged to 2 totally different discussion groups, the place they mocked refugees and shared Nazi symbols. Of these, 18 had been lively responsibility S.E.Okay. members, one was in one other police unit and one was already retired.
The investigation was first made public on Wednesday, when authorities raided 6 dwellings and suspended all 18 elite law enforcement officials from responsibility.
The police in Frankfurt, the place the elite unit was based mostly, have come underneath scrutiny previously. A series of far-right threats to immigrant activists, lawyers and politicians that began in 2018 had been traced again to police computer systems within the metropolis.
In a single case, a police pc that was used to achieve entry to the non-public data of a feminine lawyer who had been threatened was linked to a police officer who belonged to a separate far-right chat group.
Final month, the police arrested a man in Berlin for making those threats. Whereas the person was not affiliated with the police, those that have been threatened suspect sympathetic members of the police drive had been concerned within the matter.
Stefan Müller, a chief of state police in Hesse, stated the state police would rebuild an S.E.Okay. unit to exchange the previous one, however it could be restructured with a stronger emphasis on accountable management.
“They’re one of many guarantors of safety and should due to this fact be all of the extra freed from unacceptable misconduct,” he stated.