German neo-Nazi group's landlord arrested

Prosecutors say the man helped the far-right extremists who are believed to be responsible for killing at least 10 people

Guardian, UK/December 12, 2011

German police have arrested another suspected supporter of the neo-Nazi terror cell which was allegedly responsible for a string of murders across Germany.

The man was detained in the Erzgebirg district of Saxony on suspicion of providing apartments for the three founding members of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), believed to be responsible for the murders of at least 10 people between 2000 and 2007.

The German public prosecutor's office accused the man, named only as Matthias D, of helping NSU members Uwe Böhnhardt, Uwe Mundlos and Beate Zschäpe avoid detection by leasing them two apartments in Zwickau in May 2001 and 2008.

The office also claims that Matthias D allowed Böhnhardt to sublet one apartment under an alias as the three committed terrorist acts including murders and bank robberies.

Prosecutors also allege that Matthias D shared the goals of the NSU and the extremist ideology of its members. His lawyer claims he was deceived about the true identity of his lodgers.

Seven people have now been arrested in connection with the Zwickau terror cell.

Meanwhile, new links between the NSU and the far right National Democratic party of Germany (NPD) continue to emerge. Focus magazine reported on Sunday that the NPD lawyer Hans Günter Eisenecker represented Zschäpe in 1999 after pipe bombs and explosives were found in the garage of the trio.

As its deputy national chairman, Eisenecker represented the NPD in the constitutional court the last time the German government tried to ban it, in 2003. The revelation comes after another former NPD official, Ralf Wohlleben, was detained in November on suspicion of helping the terror cell obtain guns and bullets in 2001 or 2002, which would make him an accessory to six murders.

Calls by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the federal government to ban the NPD – which holds seats in several German state parliaments – might be realised at last if connections between the party and the NSU can be established.

But the attempt could be frustrated again after the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported that 130 undercover agents were still active in the NPD. An attempt to ban the NPD in 2003 failed after it was revealed that a large web of informers might have manipulated NPD activities for the benefit of prosecutors.

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