Germany rejects allegations of police racism

Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel
Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel

Germany’s government Friday rejected charges that its police were racist that arose from an inquiry into authorities’ decade-long failure to uncover a neo-Nazi cell accused of shooting dead nine immigrants.

“The federal police do not behave in racist fashion and have not done so in the past,” said Jens Teschke, a spokesman for Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich. “We strongly reject this allegation.”

He spoke one day after an official inquiry concluded that the failure to find the cell accused in the slayings of one Greek and eight Turks was because of incompetence in the police and intelligence services.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, welcomed the findings, saying, “The results will be thoroughly analysed, in particular the measures for reform that were proposed.”

The inquiry found the police trapped themselves in a false theory that a Turkish gang had formed in Germany to kill compatriots.

One member of the 11-member commission of inquiry, Social Democratic legislator Eva Hoegl, upset police unions by telling the media the disarray resulted from “structures of suspicion and prejudice in the police that often have a racist stamp.”

However, the example she gave was not connected to the botched inquiry into the National Socialist Underground (NSU) but claims last year that a small, specialized force that patrols trains and airports tends to ask black people to show their identity more than whites.

The force, the Federal Police, denied prejudice.

“We heard the allegations against the Federal Police …. with utter astonishment,” Teschke said. “The Federal Police had nothing to do with [the NSU inquiry].”

The inquiry chairman, Sebastian Edathy, earlier also denied the police were fundamentally racist, saying, “I don’t believe we have institutional racism, but I do believe that in everyday work, the police need to question their own stereotypes.”

Beate Zschaepe
Beate Zschaepe

Edathy, an opposition Social Democrat, said remedies included hiring more ethnic minorities to change the mentality of the police.

The inquiry into the killings from 2000 to 2007 ran parallel to a trial in Munich at which Beate Zschaepe, 38, is charged as an accomplice to the slayings. She is the only survivor of the three-member NSU. Two men died in a murder-suicide in 2011 that brought the gang to light. – dpa