Arrest raises fears of far-Right murder campaign in Germany

Walter Lübcke who was in charge of the Kassel area regional administration, talks to media in Kassel, Germany. Walter Luebcke was found dead outside his home Sunday, June 2, 2019
Walter Lübcke who was in charge of the Kassel area regional administration, talks to media in Kassel, Germany. Walter Luebcke was found dead outside his home Sunday, June 2, 2019 Credit: DPA

A man arrested on suspicion of murdering a senior politician in Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats has links to Germany’s increasingly militant Far-right scene, local media reported last night.

Police in the central state of Hessen confirmed yesterday that they had detained a 45-year-old man on suspicion of murdering Walter Lübcke, the head of government in the city of Kassel.

Mr Lübcke, who had clashed with the far-Right over the immigration issue, was shot in the head on his garden patio late at night on June 2nd and died almost immediately.

German police officers search neighbouring property around the house of District President of Kassel Walter Luebcke, who was found dead, in Wolfhagen-Istha near Kassel, Germany, June 3, 2019.  Credit: Reuters

Police insiders told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the suspect is a known Far-right extremist. Separately the tabloid Bild reported the suspect has a long criminal history and links to the far-Right.

The arrest came after Germany’s intelligence services recently warned of a growing potential for violence in the country’s fragmented Far-right scene, highlighting the danger of lone attackers radicalized over the internet.

Prosecutors in Hessen are set to give further details a press conference on Monday. They have not made any official response to the arrest other than to say that a DNA match led them to the suspect, but did not deny the media reports.

While police have yet to comment on a possible motive for the crime, colleagues of Mr Lübcke went public soon after the murder with their fears that a Far-right extremist was behind it.

The 65-year-old had become a hate figure for far-Right after he told a town hall meeting in 2015 that opponents of the government’s refugee policies were free to leave the country.

A video of his comments was spread online and Mr Lübcke briefly required police protection after he was inundated with death threats.

If suspicions that the murder was political are confirmed, it would be the most serious crime yet in a string of assassination attempts on proponents of Ms Merkel’s refugee policies.

At the height of the refugee crisis in 2015 an extremist stabbed the soon-to-be mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, as she was out campaigning. Two years later, Andreas Hollstein, town mayor in Altena, survived a similar knife attack.

Meanwhile federal prosecutors are investigating suspicions that a nationwide network of radicalized soldiers and police officers conspired to steal weapons and ammunition in preparation for a “Day X”.

Last week four elite police officers were arrested on suspicion of stealing munitions including 10,000 bullets