Cops ‘quizzed neo-Nazi terror cell woman’ in 2007

Police questioned a member of a neo-Nazi terror cell just months before the gang killed a policewoman – but asked her about water damage to a flat, having no idea she was connected to a string of shootings, it emerged on Sunday.

Cops 'quizzed neo-Nazi terror cell woman' in 2007
Photo: DPA

In what will be an embarrassing revelation for the authorities, Der Spiegel magazine reported that officers questioned Beate Zschäpe in 2007, but did not realise that her inconsistency could have been connected to anything sinister.

She is considered a crucial member of the self-styled National Socialist Underground (NSU) which claimed responsibility for killing nine small business owners and workers between 2000 and 2006. Eight of the victims were of Turkish origin and one was Greek.

The gang are thought to have shot a policewoman to death and stolen her weapon in 2007, three months after Zschäpe was questioned.

Investigators initially assumed the string of killings were connected to organised crime, only joining the dots in 2011 when the group self-destructed and the gun used in the killings was found in their flat.

Police called to a bank robbery last November stopped a caravan being used as a getaway vehicle, only to hear as one member of the NSU shot another and then himself.

Just a few hours later a flat used by the gang in Zwickau, Saxony was blown up – and the gun used to kill the nine shop-owners found in the rubble.

As police searched the wreckage for further clues, they found a DVD identifying the trio as the NSU and claiming responsibility for the murders.

Germany was shocked and horrified that such a group had been able to operate across the country for so long – and it soon emerged that the police had encountered the radical group as long ago as 1998 when their pipe-bomb workshop was uncovered.

But they were not arrested, and managed to go underground, invisible to police – although it seems a number of intelligence service informants within the neo-Nazi scene knew where they were.

And now Der Spiegel reports that police had Zschäpe in a questioning room in January 2007.

The 36-year-old was brought into a Zwickau police station for questioning not about the multiple murders now thought to be linked to her, but about water damage to the flat she shared with the two other NSU members.

Zschäpe repeatedly changed her story, saying she did not live in the water-damaged flat but later referring to it as “our house,” the magazine said.

She also identified herself under three different names – including one she used in Neo-Nazi circles – but none of these matched the signature she left on her statement.

The police let her go, and three months later she is thought to have been an accomplice in the murder of the policewoman whose gun was found in possession of her fellow NSU members.

It also emerged last week that the NSU’s support network was much larger than originally, including a Neo-Nazi group described by the Süddeutsche Zeitung as militant, called Blood and Honour.

The Local/jcw

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Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

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In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

READ ALSO: The German road signs that confuse foreigners