Ignorance, bias fueled Neo-Nazi killings: MP

Ignorance, bias fueled Neo-Nazi killings: MP

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Ignorance, bias fueled Neo-Nazi killings: MP

The head of the Bundestag’s inquiry commission Edathy (L) talks to Daily News reporter Hayatsever in Ankara. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

A roll of mistakes caused by ignorance, wrong analyses and prejudiced thinking definitely played a role in the murders committed in Germany by a neo-Nazi cell over the space of six years without being detected, the head of the Bundestag’s inquiry commission Sebastian Edathy has said.

“The threat neo-Nazis constitute toward our society was seriously underestimated, and this will never happen again. We knew for years that we had about 20,000 neo-Nazis in Germany. Most of them are willing to use violence as a mean of expressing their beliefs, but obviously most people could not imagine, including the police, that there could be a group emerging from the scene willing to conduct serial murders,” Edathy told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview yesterday.

Edathy was in Ankara yesterday to hold talks with Turkish officials including Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin about the work of the German parliamentary panel. The committee started its work in January this year, after Germany was shocked by the scandal in December 2011 when it was revealed that a previously unknown neo-Nazi group, calling itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU), was behind hate murders in various cities between 2000 and 2006.

The series of murders began in Nuremberg in 2000, and 10 people in total - eight Turks, one Greek, and one German police officer - were killed by up to 2006. The case left the impression among many that the police turned a blind eye to the threat of far-right violence and did not investigate the murders properly because they involved immigrants.

Apology for shameful major mistake

The police investigation into the murders was concentrated almost entirely on conducting research into the backgrounds of the victims, which is very alarming, Edathy said.

“They excluded every other possible theory, such as the possibility of xenophobia or racism being involved. That was a major mistake, and it is very shameful. We have to say severe mis lot of staff who were responsible for observing neo-Nazi activities in Germany were moved to observing Islamist groups.

Asked whether the German state or its institutions were guilty of negligence over the killings, Edathy said: “This is still under investigation. This has not been found out yet. Until now, we have not had any hints that would lead to us that theory. Since there is a lot of speculation, we must make sure that all facts come onto the table in a transparent procedure, and that the public can form their own opinion about it,” Edathy said.

Loss of trust in institutions

Commenting on the worries that the commission would whitewash the real culprits, Edathy said: “We agreed in the committee not to take into account who was in charge and who belonged to what party.

Only those who bear responsibility will be taken into account. At the moment we haven’t found anybody who broke a law. I don’t know if you can be jailed in Turkey for being ignorant, probably not. What you can be jailed for is if you covered up a terrorist group, and we haven’t found that yet.”

Considerable trust in the functioning of German institutions was lost after the revealing of the murders, and they want to regain that trust, Edathy said. “You can only regain trust through frankness, through openness and by being willing to make an unbiased analysis. This is what we are going to do; we are not going to protect anybody,” he said.

“To put together the puzzle is actually what we are doing. At the moment, we have different parts on the table. Some seem to match, some seem to be missing. We hope to bring the whole puzzle together by the summer of 2013,” Edathy concluded.

The German parliamentary committee is set to visit Turkey again in February 2013 with the whole delegation, in order to give an updated report.