Police in the eastern state of Saxony have landed in hot water as an arrest warrant for one of the men suspected of fatally stabbing a German in the city of Chemnitz has been circulated online by far-right groups.
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The regional police department in southeastern Germany has already been haunted by allegations of having links to, or at least sympathies for, some far-right groups.
An arrest warrant of one of the two suspects accused of killing a German man, 35, in Saxony’s Chemnitz has been circulating on the social networks’ pages of a local right-wing Pro Chemnitz group as well as of the anti-Islam PEGIDA movement and the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party since late Tuesday. The partially redacted document contained the personal details of the suspect, a 22-year-old Iraqi man, including his name and residential address, as well as names of the witnesses and a judge, the German media report. The paper also contains details of the incident itself.
Photos of the document without any redactions were also posted online by some far-right activists and even a German MP from the AfD party, Stephan Protschka. The original posts containing the confidential information have been eventually removed by the social networks’ administration. However, the information had been shared “more than a thousand times” by then, according to German media.
The regional interior ministry said it is “yet absolutely unclear, who might be responsible for the leak,” adding that the person responsible might not necessarily hold a position within law enforcement as the warrant was “distributed to all parties involved in the proceedings.”
According to the daily Die Welt, the list of people with access to the document includes defense lawyers, detention facility officials, the police department responsible for the detainee transfer, and a group of interpreters.
Still, the incident has led to renewed suspicions against the police. Saxony’s Deputy Prime Minister Martin Dulig, a Social Democrat, has denounced the leak as a “scandal.”
“It must be clear that some things within the police will no longer be tolerated,” Dulig told the broadcaster MDR, adding that “police officers cannot be let to believe that they can do some things, even though they know exactly that it is a criminal offense” and calling such behavior “outrageous.”
Police opened an investigation into the leaking of the confidential investigative document and violation of the investigatory privilege, which is a crime punishable by up to one year in jail in Germany.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer also called the leak “absolutely unacceptable”.
The AfD, meanwhile, drew attention to the content of the leaked document and said that the suspect was an “asylum seeker,” who “had a criminal record and was on probation.” The party also announced that it would hold a “march of silence” in Chemnitz on Saturday to “commemorate all victims of forced multiculturalization.”
The developments come following two days of riots in the Saxon city, which saw unrest between far-right protesters and leftists following the fatal stabbing. The anger and frustration were sparked by the death of a 35-year-old German in a brawl that involved around 10 people from “various nationalities.” An Iraqi and a Syrian have been arrested on suspicion of Sunday’s deadly stabbing.
Police in Saxony have already been involved in controversy as a camera team for the public ZDF broadcaster accused some officers of deliberately impeding their work at a PEGIDA demonstration in the state capital of Dresden earlier this month. Police denied all allegations by saying that the officers just did their duty. Later, it was, however, confirmed that one of the PEGIDA demonstrators who harassed the crew was also an off-duty police employee.