Government calls official’s killing ‘attack on all of us’
The killing of a politician who supported refugees, allegedly carried out by a man with a record of violent hate crimes, is an “alarm signal” that highlights the threat posed by far-right extremism, Germany’s top security official said yesterday.
The motive of the 45-year-old German man accused in the slaying has yet to be conclusively confirmed, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said. However, federal prosecutors were put in charge of the case because “there is sufficient evidence for a far-right background to the crime,” he said.
“A far-right attack on a leading representative of the state is an alarm signal, and it’s directed at all of us,” Seehofer said during a news conference in Berlin.
Walter Luebcke, 65, a long-time member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right party, was found June 2 outside his home suffering from a short-range pistol shot to the head. Luebcke led a regional government office in the central German city of Kassel.
He was known for a strong stance in favour of the welcoming refugee policy Merkel adopted during an immigration influx in 2015, when hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and persecution sought shelter in Germany.
The suspect detained in Luebcke’s death was known to police as a far-right extremist with convictions for violent crimes dating from the late 1980s to 2009, German media reported. They include a 1993 pipe bomb attack on a refugee shelter in Germany’s Hesse state.
Thomas Haldenwang, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence service BfV, said the suspect hadn’t been on the agency’s radar for the past decade. He said authorities can’t monitor all of Germany’s estimated 12,700 violent far-right extremists around the clock.
“Just as we had the category of ‘sleepers’ with Islamists, we have to consider such a scenario a possibility in the area of right-wing extremism,” said Haldenwang.