Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger yesterday acknowledged wide criticism – focused on the domestic intelligence agency – for apparently letting the gang slip through their hands for years.
The case came to light this month when two founding members apparently killed themselves after police closed in on them following a bank robbery.
“We are all asking how it could be that the security authorities allowed it to be possible for a known group of neo-Nazis to go underground at the end of the 1990s and apparently over 13 years murder people in various German cities, carry out bombing attacks, and lethally attack police officers,” she said.
The comments came in a speech in Karlsruhe, where she was introducing Germany’s new chief prosecutor, Harald Range.
The investigation into the group’s activities has spiralled into a nationwide search of previously unsolved crimes, including attacks in Cologne and Duesseldorf from 2000 to 2004 in which more than 30 people, mostly foreigners, were injured.
Two people have been arrested: suspected co-founder 36-year-old Beate Zschaepel; and an alleged supporter, identified as 37-year-old Holger G. Two other suspected members, Uwe Boehnhardt, 34, and Uwe Mundlos, 38, died in an apparent suicide, but authorities believe the group might have lots more members.