Mayor accuses police of ‘giving up control’ after murder in busy Cologne square

The mayor of Cologne’s central Innenstadt district has accused the police of “giving up control" of Ebertplatz, after a man was murdered there at the weekend.

Mayor accuses police of ‘giving up control’ after murder in busy Cologne square
Police in Ebertplatz in 2016. Photo: DPA

“It can’t go on like this. Ebertplatz has been a trouble spot for a long time. The most recent incidents are a horrible proof of what the police have been saying – they can’t solve this problem alone,” said Andreas Hupke, mayor of the Innenstadt district, according to the Express newspaper.

Hupke, a politician for the Green party, was speaking after a 22-year-old man was stabbed to death on the square on Saturday evening.

He accused the police of focusing too much of their resources on the area around the Cologne central station, where mass sexual assaults took place against woman during New Year celebrations two years ago.

But he said that while the central station was now calm, “the police have given up control of Ebertplatz.”

“If nothing changes there, this won’t be the last time something like this happens,” he warned.

Police arrested three men on suspicion of murdering the man and are searching for a further suspect. The square, which connects three inner-city neighbourhoods, is known as a hot spot for drug dealing in the Rhine city, according to Express.

This is the second time this month that a mayor from the Greens – a liberal, environmentalist party – has accused police of giving up control of a central area of their city.

Earlier in October, Stephan von Dassel, the mayor of the Berlin neighbourhood of Mitte, said the Tiergarten park had turned into a “zone of illegality”.

He called on the police to up their presence in the famous green space after a woman was murdered on her way home from a night out.

The number of murders in Germany has steadily declined since the start of the century. Nonetheless, in 2016 the number of murder victims rose by 26 percent to 373 in comparison with the previous year. That was the highest recorded number of murder victims in over a decade.

READ MORE: How a murder has forced light into the shadows of Berlin's ‘lawless' central park 


German police foil teenage school ‘Nazi attack’

German investigators said Thursday they foiled a school bomb attack, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a "Nazi terror attack".

German police foil teenage school 'Nazi attack'

“The police prevented a nightmare,” said Herbert Reul, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state.

Police in the city of Essen had stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

Some of the pipe bombs found contained nails, but officers did not find any detonators, Reul said.

There are “indications suggesting the young man has serious psychiatric problems and suicidal thoughts,” said Reul.

Material found so far in the suspect’s room include his own writing which constituted “a call for urgent help by a desperate young man.”

The suspect was allegedly planning to target his current school or another where he studied previously.

“All democrats have a common task to fight against racism, brutalisation and hate,” said NRW’s deputy premier Joachim Stamp, as he thanked police for “preventing a suspected Nazi terror attack”.

The suspect is being questioned while investigators continue to comb his home for evidence.

Investigators believe that he was acting alone.

They had been tipped off by another teen who informed them that the young man “wanted to place bombs in his school”, located about 800 metres from his home.

The school, as well as another institution, were closed on Thursday as investigators undertook fingertip searches as the locations to ensure that no bombs had been placed on site.

‘Neo-Nazi networks’ 

Germany has been rocked by several far-right assaults in recent years, sparking accusations that the government was not doing enough to stamp out neo-Nazi violence.

In February 2020 a far-right extremist shot dead 10 people and wounded five others in the central German city of Hanau.

Large amounts of material championing conspiracy theories and far-right ideology were subsequently found in the gunman’s apartment.

And in 2019, two people were killed after a neo-Nazi tried to storm a synagogue in Halle on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

Germany’s centre-left-led government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz took office in December pledging a decisive fight against far-right militants and investigators in April carried out country-wide raids against “neo-Nazi networks”, arresting four suspects.

The suspects targeted in the raids were believed to belong to the far-right martial arts group Knockout 51, the banned Combat 18 group named after theorder in the alphabet of Adolf Hitler’s initials, US-based Atomwaffen (Atomic) Division or the online propaganda group Sonderkommando 1418.

German authorities were also battling to clean extremists from within their ranks. Last year, the state of Hesse said it was dissolving Frankfurt’s elite police force after several officers were accused of participating in far-right online chats and swapping neo-Nazi symbols.