Elite German Police Unit Disbanded Over Far-Right Group Chat

BERLIN — The German authorities disbanded an elite state police unit and suspended 18 of its energetic members after they have 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. staff within the United States — 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 army. Police officers 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 photographs and anti-foreigner postings are shared over social media.

In the central state of Hesse alone, the most recent revelations deliver the variety of law enforcement officials who’ve been or are below investigation for far-right sympathies to almost 100. Günter Rudolph, a Social Democratic state lawmaker, described the Frankfurt case as providing “staggering evidence of a profound problem in Hesse’s police force.”

The just lately found chat group included three supervising officers of the elite squad, although they seem to have been inactive, making the disbandment of all the unit unavoidable, in line 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 extra expenses for failing to intervene or report the chats.

“The unacceptable misconduct of several members as well as the turning a blind eye of immediate superiors in the S.E.K. Frankfurt has made its complete dissolution necessary,” 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 circumstances, ignoring the broader downside of like-minded teams and people throughout the nation.

In essentially the most vital improvement of the nation’s efforts to stamp out extremism in regulation enforcement and the army, the protection ministry was compelled 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 performed a wide-ranging investigation into far-right constructions inside 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 energetic in 2016 and 2017, in line with officers, and it was discovered by coincidence when the cell gadgets of a member of the unit have 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 have been energetic 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 law enforcement officials from responsibility.

The police in Frankfurt, the place the elite unit was primarily based, have come below scrutiny up to now. A sequence of far-right threats to immigrant activists, attorneys and politicians that began in 2018 have been traced again to police computer systems within the metropolis.

In one case, a police laptop that was used to achieve entry to the private data of a feminine lawyer who had been threatened was linked to a police officer who belonged to a separate far-right chat group.

Last month, the police arrested a person in Berlin for making these threats. While the person was not affiliated with the police, those that have been threatened suspect sympathetic members of the police drive have been concerned within the matter.

Stefan Müller, a chief of state police in Hesse, stated 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 are one of the guarantors of security and must therefore be all the more free of unacceptable misconduct,” he stated.