Neo-Nazi suspect ‘admits’ to pro-migrant politician murder

The key suspect in the killing of a pro-migrant politician has admitted to the gun murder, Germany's interior minister said Wednesday after a special parliamentary commission hearing.

Neo-Nazi suspect 'admits' to pro-migrant politician murder
Ernst (second to right) and other far-right ralliers are ushered into a pub by police in this archive photo from 2002. They were seeking refuge from left-wing counter demonstrators. Photo: DPA

Stephan Ernst, 45, a far-right militant with previous convictions, is in custody for the assassination-style murder of local politician Walter Lübcke on June 2nd.

Speaking after the parliamentary hearing, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the “suspect has confessed” to the killing and “said he acted alone.”

Investigators are now looking into whether others may have known of Ernst's plans or even collaborated with him.

SEE ALSO: Far-right motive suspected in German pro-migrant politician's murder

“We will also examine intensively in which circles he moved recently and in the last years,” said Seehofer.

“Therefore the clarification of this political murder is not over.”

The killing has deeply shaken Germany, and raised questions about whether the country has failed to take seriously a rising threat from neo-Nazis.

“It is now clearly confirmed that there is a far-right background,” Greens interior affairs expert Irene Mihalic told AFP after the parliamentary hearing.

In 2002, Ernst took place in an election campaign rally of the extreme-right political group NPD. Ernst and 20 other skinheads were chased through the streets by more than 100 counter-demonstrators before police ushered them into a pub.

The burning question is which network Ernst was predominantly linked to, and “whether this was tied to the NSU”. If so,”then part of the history of the NSU would need to be rewritten”.

The far-right militant group National Socialist Underground (NSU) killed nine Turkish and Greek-born immigrants and a German policewoman from 2000 to 2007, and carried out bomb attacks and bank robberies.

SEE ALSO: Mammoth neo-Nazi terror trial enters final phase in Munich

Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party has laid partial blame for Lübcke's killing on the far-right party AfD, saying it contributed to inciting extremist hatred.

Lübcke was an outspoken defender of Merkel's decision to welcome refugees and in 2015 drew the wrath of right-wing extremists by telling Germans who objected that they could leave the country.

Railing against migrants, the AfD scooped around 13 percent of the vote in 2017 general elections, becoming the biggest opposition party in parliament.

SEE ALSO: Merkel's CDU warns against alliance with far-right AfD

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New army scandal: Germany vows to punish soldiers caught singing anti-Semitic songs

Germany's Defence Minister on Tuesday vowed to severely punish soldiers stationed in Lithuania who were accused of singing racist and anti-Semitic songs, if the allegations turned out to be true.

New army scandal: Germany vows to punish soldiers caught singing anti-Semitic songs
German soldiers training in Saxony-Anhalt in May. credit: dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

“Whatever happened is in no way acceptable,” said Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Those implicated would be “vigorously prosecuted and punished”, she added.

The Spiegel Online news site had on Monday reported that German soldiers in Lithuania sang racist and anti-Semitic songs during a party at a hotel in April.

One had also sought to sexually assault another soldier while he was asleep, a scene which was caught on film, said Spiegel.

According to Spiegel Online, the scenes took place at a party at which soldiers consumed large quantities of alcohol. They are also alleged to have arranged a “birthday table” for Adolf Hitler on April 20th and to have sung songs for him.

It is unclear to what extent more senior ranked soldiers were aware of the incidents.

Three soldiers have been removed from the contingent stationed in the Baltic country and an investigation is ongoing to identify other suspects, said the report.

The German armed forces have been repeatedly rocked by allegations of right-wing extremism within their ranks.

Kramp-Karrenbauer last year ordered the partial dissolution of the KSK commando force after revelations that some of its members harboured neo-Nazi sympathies.

SEE ALSO: Germany to compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination