German police officers dismissed over alleged online Nazi content

German prosecutors have dismissed 19 police officers in a commando unit and suspended another over claims they glorified violence and made references to a former Nazi organisation in online chats, a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Investigators in the western state of Hesse found out about the 20 suspects in the course of a separate investigation of an officer in the same commando unit, known as SEK, who was suspected of sharing child sexual abuse images.

“During an evaluation of the suspect’s mobile phones, several chat groups where criminal content was shared by members were identified,” Frankfurt’s senior public prosecutor, Nadja Niesen, dijo en un comunicado.

German police and security agencies have faced accusations of not doing enough to weed out potentially violent nationalists in their ranks.

This is a sensitive issue in a country where awareness of the Nazis’ second world war atrocities, including the murder of millions of Jews in the Holocaust, remains strong but where antisemitic crimes by far-right supporters have been rising.

The domestic intelligence agency said in a report last year that less than 1% of Germany’s police force, security agencies and military personnel espoused far-right worldviews and sympathies. The report was part of a wider inquiry into far-right extremism in the civil service.

Prosecutors in Frankfurt said police had searched six locations in Hesse, including police headquarters where some of the suspects had worked.

Three of the 20 suspects are being investigated for possible attempts to obstruct justice, Niesen said.

Nineteen of the suspects were active police officers when the investigation was launched in April.

Niesen did not say whether and when charges would be filed.

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