Killings force German intel chief to resign

Killings force German intel chief to resign

Killings force German intel chief to resign

A group of neo-Nazis holds a demonstration in the city of Dresden, Germany in this June 17 photo. EPA Photo

The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency is stepping down amid criticism surrounding investigations into a far-right group suspected to have killed 10 people, mostly of Turkish origin, over several years.

Heinz Fromm, 63, will go into retirement at his own request at the end of this month after leading the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution since 2000, the interior minister said in a statement yesterday, The Associated Press reported. The move came a week after the agency admitted that files relevant to the investigation of the neo-Nazi group had been destroyed after the group’s discovery.

The so-called National Socialist Underground evaded authorities’ detection for more than a decade until late last year. The far-right trio, called itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU), is suspected of killing eight people of Turkish origin and a Greek man between 2000 and 2006, a policewoman in 2007, Agence France-Presse reported. Authorities have faced criticism over how the small far-right group could operate with impunity for 11 years and the government has admitted gross errors by the security services.

Neo-Nazi files shredded

Pressure further increased last week after it emerged that files with information about a group of right-wing extremists were destroyed by authorities several days after the NSU came to light.

German center-left opposition leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a separate statement that in retiring, Fromm “has accepted the responsibility for incomprehensible, intolerable and totally unjustifiable behavior of his staff.” Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said in the statement that he “respects” Fromm’s personal decision to seek early retirement, acknowledging that he “has had to face considerable criticism.”