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Dead neo-Nazi robbers linked to cop-killer case

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Dead neo-Nazi robbers linked to cop-killer case
Photo: DPA
17:38 CET+01:00
German authorities say they are confident they have solved the 2007 murder of a police woman after her pistol was found near the bodies of two neo-Nazi bank robbers. Their accomplice turned herself in on Tuesday.

Stuttgart public prosecutor Klaus Pflieger said he thought the neo-Nazi gang had to be responsible for the police woman's murder as “one does not pass on such weapons.”

Speaking to SWR public radio on Tuesday, Pflieger said he thought the entire messy case was connected to drugs.

Police officer Michéle Kiesewetter was shot in the head and instantly killed in April 2007 as she was sitting in her patrol car in Heilbronn, northern Baden-Württemberg. Her colleague was badly injured and was in a coma for weeks, unable to help much with the investigation after he recovered. Their service weapons were stolen from the scene.

Attempts to find their attackers went nowhere for years, led astray by an embarrassing blunder which fooled the police – DNA contamination of cotton buds used to collect evidence at a number of crime scenes meant officials wasted their time hunting the so-called “Phantom of Heilbronn.”

Once this misunderstanding was cleared up the trail went cold – until Friday. Then two men, named by police only as Uwe M., 38, and Uwe B., 34, robbed a bank in Eisenach, Thuringia, escaping with several thousand euros.

Police stopped the caravan the two men were driving on Friday and heard shots as they approached the vehicle – before it went up in flames.

After the fire was put out, officials who went into the burned caravan found the bodies of the two men – who had apparently shot themselves – as well as the two police weapons taken from the scene of Kiesewetter's murder and a pair of police handcuffs.

Shortly afterwards, an explosion rocked the flat in Zwickau, Saxony, where the two men had been living – along with a woman named by the Bild daily on Tuesday as Beate Zschäpe, 36. The woman was allegedly seen leaving the flat shortly before the explosion.

An international search warrant was issued for her – and on Tuesday she handed herself in to police in Jena, Thuringia, accompanied by a lawyer. She is initially suspected of arson, in connection with the explosion in the flat.

The Thuringia state parliamentary grouping of the socialist Left party said the trio were connected with the Jena neo-Nazi scene, while Bild reported on Tuesday that all three were active in the neo-Nazi Thüringer Heimatschutz group.

They were busy building pipe bombs until January 1998 when police found their bomb-building workshop, after which the trio went underground.

“They were living in Zwickau,” Martina Renner, leader of The Left party group in the Thüringian state parliament, told Bild.

Although public prosecutor Pflieger said he was confident all the loose ends would now be tied up, his political superior Reinhold Gall, state interior minister for Baden-Württemberg, warned of drawing hasty conclusions. They were close, he said, but one should not yet speak of a breakthrough in solving the Kiesewetter murder.

DAPD/DPA/The Local/hc

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