The investigation into killings of mostly Turkish men by a neo-Nazi group in Germany has gained an even more shocking dimension with the discovery of a cover-up scandal by official institutions.
In addition to the failure of German authorities to prevent the racially motivated neo-Nazi killings of eight Turkish men and a Greek between 2000 and 2006, and a policewoman in 2007, it emerged this week that documents regarding the National Socialist Underground (NSU), the group responsible for the killings, were destroyed by a federal institution.
A spokesperson for the German Interior Ministry, Jens Teschke, confirmed on Friday that a set of documents destroyed on Dec. 5, 2011 were connected to the NSU, but insisted that they were not related to the crimes committed by the group.
As the scandal deepened further with the latest revelation, Turkey said it was expecting the German authorities to clear up the controversy surrounding the killings. Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru said Ankara expects the German authorities to complete the investigation as soon as possible and make a public statement regarding their findings.
At a session of a parliamentary commission set up to investigate the murders in Germany, participants said it emerged that at least 19 documents regarding to NSU activities were destroyed in November and December of 2011, and another six documents were destroyed in 2012. The Social Democrat Chair of the Commission, Sebastian Edaty, said that it is unacceptable that the commission has only just found out that documents were destroyed, although the Interior Ministry has known about it for months. He also added that he believes the documents were destroyed deliberately.
Head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) Heinz Fromm has announced that he will step down at the end of July after revelations that an official in his agency destroyed intelligence files on the neo-Nazi cell shortly after their activities became public in November. His counterpart in the state of Thuringia, Thomas Sippel, also resigned due to a similar failure. The third resignation came from the head of the intelligence agency in the state of Saxony, Reinhard Boos, for a failure to provide the intelligence records of the neo-Nazi group. Saxony’s interior minister, Markus Ulbig, said that the officials had failed to provide lawmakers with the transcripts of telephone taps of people linked to NSU.
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly apologized to the families of the 10 neo-Nazi victims and participated in the memorial service for the dead in February, it was regarded as indicating the government’s commitment to the fight against neo-Nazi organizations. Although Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich further acknowledged the poor coordination between the federal and regional institutions to identify and stop the neo-Nazi cell, the recent development, which seems like a serious cover-up, causes more anxiety among the country’s minorities, of which Turks constitute the biggest portion with almost 3 million people.
According to a Turkish diplomatic source who spoke to Today’s Zaman on condition of anonymity on Friday, Turkey has already repeatedly voiced concerns over state negligence and continues to follow up the case with various German authorities. The official described the destruction of documents by the Interior Ministry as a “grave” development.