A pair of police officers in eastern Germany used the name of a notorious neo-Nazi extremist to work undercover during an operation to protect Turkish President Erdogan who visited Berlin this week, local media reveal.
Criminal police in the eastern German state of Saxony are inquiring into two members of elite counter-terrorism unit SEK, the regional interior ministry said. The men were deployed to protect Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his much-anticipated trip to Germany.
As the officers had to work undercover, protocol required that they use a codename. Their choice was Uwe Boehnhardt, a notorious member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) – a neo-Nazi extremist group that slaughtered eight Turkish immigrants, one Greek citizen, and a German police officer in the 2000s.
The bizarre codename surfaced when the two signed up to access internal documents they needed for the deployment, local media report. Officers in charge of the operation reacted swiftly, and the policemen were immediately recalled.
Petric Kleine, the head of Saxony criminal police, was first to react to the news. He said the use of Boehnhardts name was “hardly to be beaten in stupidity” and represented “blatant disregard of [his] victims and their relatives.”
Roland Woller, Saxonys interior minister, echoed the words, calling it “disgusting, horrible and absolutely unacceptable.”
Erdogans Friday visit to Berlin has stirred considerable controversy in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been criticized for hosting a leader which some accuse of being increasingly authoritarian.
Merkel said the visit was very important “because when there are differences a personal meeting is vital to resolve them.”
The NSU first came to light in 2011 when the bodies of Boehnhardt and his accomplice Uwe Mundlos were found inside a burnt-out motorhome in eastern Germany. The two are believed to have died in an apparent murder-suicide after a failed bank robbery in a town of Eisenach.
Beate Zschaepe, the neo-Nazi gangs third and last surviving member, was detained shortly afterwards. In July of this year, a German court sentenced her to life in prison, finding her guilty on 10 counts of murder. She denied participating in the murders, although her lawyer said that she felt morally guilty for not trying to prevent the killings.
The scandal surrounding the NSU has led to widespread criticism of German security agencies. Lawyers, activists, and relatives of the victims believe that the group had far more accomplices.
It also came out that the BfV, Germanys domestic intelligence agency, had placed numerous informants within the NSU and systematically thwarted and made impossible the investigation of murders, attempted murders, and robberies attributed to the group.
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