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 mentioned on Thursday.
The transfer in opposition to the unit — roughly analogous to a S.W.A.T. crew in america — in Frankfurt is the newest by German authorities to clamp down on an increase in far-right networks in a number of state safety models and within the army. 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 pictures and anti-foreigner postings are shared over social media.
Within the central state of Hesse alone, the newest revelations carry the variety of cops who’ve been or are below 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 power.”
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 prices in reference to speaking symbols banned by the structure and racist hate content material, and the supervisors will face further prices 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 instant superiors within the S.E.Ok. Frankfurt has made its full dissolution mandatory,” Peter Beuth, the state inside minister of Hesse mentioned in a press release, 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 cops with right-wing tendencies as solitary circumstances, 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 army, the protection ministry was pressured final yr to disband a full preventing firm of the nation’s most elite particular forces unit, identified by its German initials, Ok.S.Ok., due to right-wing infiltration.
The authorities took the dramatic transfer after the authorities carried out 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 baby 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.Ok. 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 cops from responsibility.
The police in Frankfurt, the place the elite unit was primarily based, have come below scrutiny prior to now. A sequence of far-right threats to immigrant activists, attorneys 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 private info 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 person in Berlin for making these threats. Whereas the person was not affiliated with the police, those that have been threatened suspect sympathetic members of the police power had been concerned within the matter.
Stefan Müller, a chief of state police in Hesse, mentioned the state police would rebuild an S.E.Ok. unit to interchange the previous one, however it will 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 mentioned.