Germany looks into neo-Nazi link in disappearance of Turkish girl
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULOct 21, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Oct 21, 2016 12:00 am
Discovery of DNA trace of a neo-Nazi gang member at the burial site of a missing girl raised suspicions that Nationalist Socialist Underground (NSU) gang accused in racist murders of eight Turks might be responsible for more crimes.
Police now look into disappearance of Hilal Ercan, a 10-year-old girl of Turkish origin who went missing in Hamburg in 1999 for possible links to the gang.
Heike Uhde, a police spokesman for Hamburg, told local media they were investigating the link of the gang members to the disappearance after DNA of Uwe Boehnhardt, deceased member of NSU, was discovered in a site where nine-year-old Peggy Knobloch was buried after her murder.
Ercan's case has sparked one of the largest manhunts in the German history but despite the intensive search backed by public campaigns, TV shows, authorities failed to locate Ercan. The young girl was heading to a grocery store to buy sweets in a busy area of Hamburg before she mysteriously vanished in broad daylight on Jan.22, 1999. In 2005, a convicted sex offender claimed to kill the girl but later retracted his confession while authorities could not find any evidence linking him to the disappearance.
German media reported that authorities may investigate other "cold" cases regarding the disappearing migrant children in the wake of DNA discovery.
NSU, composed of Uwe Boehnhardt, Uwe Mundlos and Beate Zschaepe is accused of murders of eight Turks, a Greek man and a German policewoman as well as a bomb attack in a Turkish neighborhood in Germany and a string of bank robberies between 2000 and 2007. The crimes were long thought to be the result of a domestic dispute or mafia killings among ethnic communities by authorities, while German media further fueled sentiment blaming Turks themselves for murders by dubbing them as the "döner killings." As a result of a series of seemingly coincidental incidents, the NSU and its crimes were unearthed. These include the apparent suicide of Uwe Boehnhardt and Uwe Mundlos after police closed in on those two NSU members following a botched bank robbery. This was followed by Beate Zschaepe turning herself in to authorities after she set fire to a house she shared with other gang members. Zschaepe remains the sole defendant in the NSU trial that has been underway since 2013 and denies connection to the killings although she admitted she were aware that the NSU was responsible for the crimes. Authorities' failure to detect the activities of the NSU for years prompted concerns of a potential cover-up and even protection of far-right groups, especially after it was revealed that NSU members had close ties to some informants working for intelligence services. Several intelligence officials have resigned since the trial started, but no legal proceedings are underway on possible negligence and cover-ups related to the case.