Germany seeks public help in neo-Nazi murder hunt
- 1 December 2011
- From the section Europe
German authorities investigating a neo-Nazi cell thought to have killed 10 people have asked for the public's help.
The head of the federal prosecutors' office asked people to come forward with any information.
He said the three known members of the group used various names, false IDs and railcards, and rented multiple flats.
They must have had help to sustain their life in the underground, he said.
The existence of the group, which called itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU), came to light after two members were found dead in an apparent joint suicide and a third gave herself up to police.
A further three people accused of being associated with the group are in custody.
The cell is believed to have shot dead 10 people, mostly foreign-born shopkeepers, and carried out at least 14 bank robberies to finance their activities.
They are also thought to be responsible for two bomb attacks in Cologne.
Officials are still investigating whether the cell was responsible for any more crimes.
At a joint news conference, the federal criminal police office and the prosecutors' office showed a stash of weapons discovered at one of the group's bases.
The authorities said they want information on where the three core members had lived, who they had contact with, and where they rented cars. Anyone who had seen them in car parks and camping sites with a camper van or any other form of transport should come forward.
Anyone who was scared to contact the authorities could give information anonymously via a lawyer or a priest, they said.
The head of the federal criminal police office, Joerg Ziercke, said he had 420 officers assigned to the case and planned to deploy more.
"This terror cell did not leave anything to chance," he said.
The group are believed to have been living underground since 1998.
From 2000 to 2006 they allegedly carried out a series of murders throughout Germany, targeting shopkeepers. Eight victims were of Turkish origin and one was Greek.
The killings were known as the 'kebab murders' as many of the victims ran kebab stalls. Only after the discovery of the NSU group in November was it realised that there was a far-right link with the murders.
In April 2007 a 22-year-old policewoman, Michele Kiesewetter, was shot dead in the west German town of Heilbronn, and a male officer was seriously wounded. This crime too was only linked to neo-Nazis after the discovery of a DVD in which the NSU apparently confessed to the 10 murders.
Many in Germany have questioned how the group's activities could have escaped detection for so long, especially as the individuals were known to the security services.
The revelations have also re-opened calls for the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) to be banned. One of the suspects currently being held had previously held positions within the NPD.
The party has not had electoral success at federal elections but is represented in two of Germany's state parliaments.