A group of German police officers attached to a commando unit are in hot water after Frankfurt prosecutors discovered neo-Nazi talk in their private online chats while investigating a colleague in a suspected child porn case.
Frankfurt public prosecutors, along with Hesse State Police, conducted searches at six addresses on Wednesday as part of an investigation into an alleged neo-Nazi ring within the force. All 17 suspects are members of the state’s police commando unit known as SEK.
The investigators stumbled onto the group by chance while investigating another SEK member, a 38-year-old officer suspected of sharing child pornography. The prosecutors, however, apparently discovered other types of illicit content being shared in the unit’s chat groups.
“During an evaluation of the suspect’s mobile phones, several chat groups where criminal content was shared by members were identified,” Frankfurt prosecutors said in a statement.
Seventeen of the accused are believed to have distributed content constituting incitement of racial hatred or images linked to a former National Socialist organization.
At least three officers also stand accused of obstruction of justice, as they were members of the offensive chat groups and “as superiors failed to stop or sanction” the neo-Nazi talk, the prosecutors added. The content was allegedly primarily exchanged in 2016-17, with the most recent messages sent in 2019.
The prosecutors now have 20 suspects, including 19 active and one retired police officer. All of the suspects are male and aged between 29 and 54.
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Recently, Germany has been rocked by a series of scandals stemming from the discovery of right-wing radical groups within the ranks of the police and military.
Last September, around 30 German police officers were suspended in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia after being accused of sharing Nazi propaganda in private chat groups. Nine more officers from the state were targeted by investigative searches in late November, after they were accused of indulging in similar behavior.
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