Lawmakers to probe security agencies over far-right killing - InfoNews

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Lawmakers to probe security agencies over far-right killing

Police officers lead defendant Markus H., center, into the court room in on the first day of his trial at the Oberlandgericht Frankfurt courthouse, in Frankfurt, Germany, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. A German court will begin hearing the case against two far-right extremists accused of killing the regional politician Walter Luebcke of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party. The execution-style slaying of Walter Luebcke shocked the country last year. Stephan Ernst a 46-year-old with previous convictions for violent anti-migrant crimes, will appear in the Frankfurt regional court accused of murder, attempted murder, serious bodily harm and firearms offenses. A second man, identified only as Markus H. due to privacy rules, is charged with accessory to murder and breaking firearms laws. (Thomas Lohnes/Pool via AP)
June 18, 2020 - 3:21 PM

BERLIN - German lawmakers plan to investigate possible mistakes made by security agencies in their handling of two neo-Nazis suspected of killing a regional politician last year.

Opposition lawmakers in the central state of Hesse announced Thursday that they want to hold a parliamentary investigation into what police and domestic intelligence officials knew about the two suspects, whose trial began this week.

Stephan Ernst, a 46-year-old German man, is accused of the murder, attempted murder, serious bodily harm and firearms offences. A second man, identified only as Markus H. because of privacy rules, is accused of accessory to murder and breaking firearms laws.

Prosecutors say the men were behind the slaying last June of Walter Luebcke, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right Union bloc who had spoken out in favour of helping refugees. Ernst is also accused of stabbing an Iraqi asylum-seeker in January 2016.

Hesse lawmakers want to know why Ernst, who had previous convictions for violent anti-migrant crimes, had dropped off the radar of security agencies, and why they didn't intervene when Markus H., whose far-right views were also known, acquired firearms.

Frankfurt's regional court on Thursday reviewed a police video of Ernst confessing to Luebcke's killing following his arrest.

Ernst's lawyer, Frank Hannig, said after the hearing that while his client had later retracted the confession, “not everything that was in this statement back then was necessarily wrong.”

He noted that in the June 25, 2019, video, Ernst expressed remorse for Luebcke's death and informed police where the firearm used in the fatal shooting was hidden.

“He is terribly sorry about the death of Dr. Walter Luebcke, which Mr. Ernst — and I think that was clear to all observers — had a part in,” said Hannig. “That is a sign of remorse and to me that's remarkable.”

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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