German neo-Nazi charged 17 years after terrorist attack
A neo-Nazi has been charged in connection with a bomb attack in the western German city of Düsseldorf in 2000 that injured several Jewish people. Observers are wondering why this has happened so long after the incident.
Düsseldorf prosecutor Ralf Herrenbrück announced last week that the 51-year-old suspect Ralf S. would be charged, 10 months after his arrest in February, with 12 counts of attempted murder and one count of causing an explosion. A state court will now decide whether to take the matter to trial.
The explosion from the home-made pipe-bomb attached to a footbridge at the Düsseldorf-Wehrhahn station in July 2000 injured several Jewish migrants, all from the former Soviet Union, who were learning German at a nearby language school at the time.
One woman lost her unborn baby as a result of the attack, and five of the injured have joined the prosecutors as co-plaintiffs.
Evidence not pursued
Left party Bundestag member Martina Renner saw the Wehrhahn case as part of a pattern in which the police had avoided neo-Nazi explanations. "There are many such cases, and in the Wehrhahn case there were many questions why the investigating authorities didn't pursue possible neo-Nazi motivations," she told DW.
The problem, she said, was the assumptions the police made. "The police talk their way out of it by saying there was no letter claiming responsibility, and that therefore there was no political motivation — but when it comes to far-right crimes, the acts themselves represent a political message," Renner said. "They are messages to the community at which they are aimed, namely: 'You need to leave this country, and if you don't, we will kill you.' And that's how they are understood by the communities in question."
Renner also said that she hoped prosecutors would do more than simply put Ralf S. on trial. "There will only be a complete investigation if there is room in the trial to look into whether there were accomplices — whether the bomb had been built with other people, or whether he had help checking the language school to see when the group of victims would leave," she said. "It's important not to simply pursue the single perpetrator theory, and the second thing is that they need to find out why the investigation wasn't carried out properly or may have been blocked."
None of this, she added, had so far been achieved with the NSU trial.
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