German lawmakers see signs of far-right cover up


BERLIN (AP) — German lawmakers investigating a string of far-right murders said Monday there appeared to have been a cover up by officials who withheld key information on the authorities' contacts with neo-Nazis linked to the case.

Members of the cross-party committee set up to probe 10 suspected neo-Nazi killings between 2000 and 2007 have previously voiced frustration that law enforcement agencies appeared to have held back evidence — and in at least two instances shredded material.

Their anger reached another peak following revelations last week that a mole in the far-right scene gave Berlin police information in 2002 that could have led to the arrest of the three main suspects in the murders.

"That the (parliamentary) investigation committee wasn't informed seems to have been intentional," its chairman, Sebastian Edathy, told The Associated Press. "Only when we've seen the files will we be able to get a clear picture," he said, before adding: "This is the most serious failure yet by the authorities."

Fellow lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele went further, accusing security officials in the state of Berlin of deliberately lying to lawmakers.

"Twice we asked them whether they had anything that was of relevance to the investigation committee," Stroebele told rbb-Inforadio. "They didn't tell us anything. On the contrary, we were told they had nothing. That can only be described as a lie."

Frank Henkel, Berlin's state interior minister, is scheduled to make a statement Tuesday on his department's failure to reveal that from 2000 to 2011 it had an informer with close links to the so-called National Socialist Underground. The group is alleged to have killed nine immigrants and a policewoman over a seven-year period.

Two of the NSU's three core members were found dead after an apparent murder-suicide last November. The third, Beate Zschaepe, is in custody.

German media have reported that the informer is one of 13 people — including Zschaepe — against whom federal prosecutors are now preparing indictments.

The office of federal prosecutors declined to confirm the reports.

On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in, saying her government was intent on clearing up the entire affair.

"In countless places the investigation isn't working the way it should, and the way I think it should," she told reporters. "Some consequences have already been drawn, others must still be drawn."

Four senior German domestic intelligence officials have already resigned in recent months over the authorities' failures in the National Socialist Underground case.