Blunders on the part of authorities continue to pile up in the case of the notorious National Socialist Underground (NSU) neo-Nazi gang. German media outlets reported that a number of text messages sent and received by a man linked to the gang "disappeared" in the latest embarrassment for Germany where critical evidence in the case was "swept away by floods" or "accidentally deleted" in previous instances.
The NSU is accused of murdering eight Turks, a string of bank robberies and a bomb attack targeting a predominantly Turkish neighborhood in Germany. Its three members managed to dodge the authorities for years before their discovery in 2011, apparently by pure chance as police stumbled upon a video where they boasted of their crimes.
German public broadcaster MDR reported that the issue of missing text messages was discovered by a parliamentary committee investigating the gang. More than a hundred text messages dating back to 1998 were sent by and to Jan Werner, a suspect linked to the gang. It was the same Werner whose notebooks with suspicious content were allegedly destroyed in 2014 by Berlin police who were subject to a 2012 investigation.
Werner is accused of supplying arms to the gang in 1998 and was an eyewitness in the 2014 hearings on the gang, whose sole surviving member Beate Zschaepe is standing trial.
It is unclear why the text messages went missing but it raises questions on the authorities' repeated pledges to shed light on the negligence of security agencies regarding the case. Critics of the case claim police and intelligence services that hired people from the neo-Nazi scene as informants tried to erase their tracks leading to the NSU case. Despite its links to many gangs in Germany's neo-Nazi scene, the NSU apparently went unnoticed for years, from the late 90s to 2011 while they committed their racially motivated killings of Turks, as well as a Greek man. Authorities initially blamed domestic disputes in the Turkish community for the murders and other crimes between 2000 and 2007. German media has even dubbed the murders the "döner killings" in reference to the popular Turkish dish. The MDR report says police intercepted some 2,500 text messages but 114 messages over two days in August 1998 remain missing. German media outlets say Werner had contacted an intelligence official one day before sending the 114 messages.
Last year, it was revealed that several documents regarding the case disappeared in the 2010 Saxony floods. The document was related to Ralf Marschner, a neo-Nazi figure code named "Primus" by German intelligence, which hired him as an informant. Quoted by German media outlets, Irene Mihalic, a lawmaker in the parliamentary inquiry committee on the NSU, said the prosecutor's office in Chemnitz investigating the case told the committee that documents regarding Marschner went missing in a flood disaster, and added that it was "odd that the raging waters picked up these particular documents to carry away." Ralf Marschner disappeared in 2007 though media reports say he settled in Switzerland after he faced an arrest warrant regarding the NSU case.
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