Germany dismisses commando policemen over Nazi content

·2-min read

BERLIN (Reuters) - German prosecutors have dismissed 19 policemen in a commando unit and suspended another over suspicions they had glorified violence and made references to a former Nazi organisation in online chats, a spokeswoman 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 pornography.

"During an evaluation of the suspect's mobile phones, several chat groups where criminal content was shared by members were identified," Frankfurt Senior Public Prosecutor Nadja Niesen said in a statement.

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

This is a sensitive issue in a country where awareness of the Nazis' World War Two atrocities, including the murder of millions of Jews in the Holocaust, remains strong but where anti-Semitic crimes by far-right supporters has 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 espouse far-right world views 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, Frankfurt prosecutor Niesen said.

Only one of the 20 was a former policeman and the other 19 had been active when the investigation was launched in April.

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

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Gareth Jones)