BERLIN (AP) — The killing of a pro-migrant politician this month, allegedly at the hands of a violent neo-Nazi, illustrates the threat posed by far-right extremism, Germany’s top security official said Tuesday.
Horst Seehofer, Germany’s interior minister, said while the alleged perpetrator’s motive has yet to be conclusively confirmed federal prosecutors had taken charge of the case because “there is sufficient evidence for a far-right background to the crime.”
“A far-right attack on a leading representative of the state is an alarm signal and it’s directed at all of us,” he added.
Walter Luebcke, a long-time member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats, was found shot in the head on June 2 at his home near the central German city of Kassel, where he led a regional government office.
The 65-year-old was known for taking a strong stance in favor of Merkel’s welcoming policy toward refugees during the 2015 influx that saw hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and persecution seek shelter in Germany.
Police on Saturday arrested a 45-year-old known far-right extremist with a string of convictions for violent crimes dating back decades, though the last recorded incident was in 2009. German media reported that the suspect, identified by authorities only as Stephan E., had actively spread far-right views on social media.
Seehofer condemned the online hate comments directed at Luebcke before and after his death, but refrained from pinning blame on any particular group. Fellow politicians and extremism experts however accused the far-right Alternative for Germany party of contributing to a climate of hatred that led to the killing of the politician.
Christian Democratic lawmaker Michael Brand told Deutschlandfunk radio Tuesday that there was a “direct line” between the anti-migrant, anti-government positions of some in Alternative for Germany and the shooting of Luebcke.
Alternative for Germany’s leadership condemned the killing and called for a thorough investigation into the case. The party declined to confirm reports that it had previously received a donation from the suspect, saying it was bound by data protection and privacy laws.