D.he scenes are confusingly similar. Hesse’s interior minister again stood on Thursday with his back to the wall on the ground floor of his ministry, this tall white block in downtown Wiesbaden. Peter Beuth (CDU) has lined up next to him, as in previous appearances when it was also about right-wing extremist activities in the police. Presumably that way the responsibility is easier to bear.
This time, among other things, Police President Roland Ullmann is there, but apparently no speech is planned for him today. Beuth speaks a lot for this and tries to differentiate himself from what is once again causing the security authorities in Hesse to totter. “Completely unacceptable” he calls the events at the Police Special Operations Command (SEK) in Frankfurt. “Nothing can stay there as it was”, the SEK will be dissolved. The error culture had “completely failed” in parts, the efforts he had made to strengthen “resilience” against right-wing extremism would be intensified again, and an “expert group” would now examine the undesirable developments “meticulously”.
Beuth: Changes are also necessary at the Kassel site
No less than 20 SEK officials in Frankfurt are said to have sent right-wing extremist content to each other in chat groups. On Wednesday, investigators searched the homes of six suspects as well as police stations. A total of 19 active and one former police officer from the SEK Frankfurt were part of the chat groups, three of them with managerial responsibility. One of the accused is an instructor at Hesse’s police college.
There are two special task forces in Hesse, one in Kassel and one in Frankfurt. For tactical reasons, the Ministry of the Interior does not want to say how many police officers have been assigned. But in Frankfurt a little less than half of the SEK is likely to be affected by the scandal. The special forces are still operational, says Beuth only. The location in Kassel will also be “viewed collectively”, and changes are necessary there too.
The SEK is the elite unit of the police, it is used in difficult cases where life and death are at stake. The case hits the Hessian police to the core. And he meets her just at a moment when, after long difficult years, there was finally some light to be seen. At the beginning of May, after years of investigation, Hesse’s security authorities finally announced the arrest of an urgent suspect in the case of the right-wing extremist “NSU 2.0” threats.
For years, police officers had previously been suspected of being the author or at least accomplices in the case of the threatening letters. Beuth spoke of an outstanding success in the investigation, dozens of innocent victims and the entire Hessian police could breathe a sigh of relief. Special investigator Hanspeter Mener said that the ignorant police officers were allegedly a “tool” of the perpetrator. In investigative circles, the statements are rated as “fatal”. “It is still unclear whether there were connections to the police,” it says. Immediately after the access one could not say such a thing at all. Evidently an attempt had been made to politically use the success of the investigation, which had finally come about after many years of hard work.
Doubts about the thesis on the threatening letters
It is true that the suspect, unemployed Berliner, who is now in custody in Frankfurt, is very likely to be the author of the threatening letters. The investigators had noticed him through language comparisons; In addition, there are now allegedly traces of his direct authorship. However, it is still unclear where he got the data on the threatened. The thesis of the investigating authorities has so far been that he had asked the police for the data by telephone using a kind of trickery by pretending to be an official. The police themselves are innocent.
In the case of the lawyer Seda Basay-Yildiz in particular, there are doubts about the thesis. In the first threatening letter to her, private information about her family was also found. They had previously been retrieved from the police information system in an extensive query. The policewoman whose account was used to access the data was part of a chat group within the first Frankfurt police station, which also sent right-wing extremist content to itself. “This is not a coincidence,” says investigators.
In addition, the actually blocked address of the lawyer was then given in another threatening letter. Also in the special commission of the State Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA), which is investigating the case of the threatening letters, many are of the opinion that the writer could hardly have acted alone. Someone who was of the same opinion helped the perpetrator, it is said. It cannot be ruled out that they are police officers. The chat group that has now been excavated gives this thesis new nourishment. With the exploration of the SEK group, the number of police officers who have been or is being investigated for possible right-wing extremist activities in Hesse since 2018 has risen to 114. Mobile phones were confiscated during the searches on Wednesday, and it is still unclear whether there will be chats with members other units gave.
None of the people affected will ever work in a special unit again, where possible they would be removed from the police, Beuth said on Thursday. “If you make a mistake, you have to answer for it, in life as in the police.” Beuth has been Minister of the Interior in Hesse since 2014. When asked about his personal responsibility, he replied on Thursday that he was standing there and giving answers. “I am responsible for changes.” He does not want to resign. He has a job to do here.