German police arrest six over Chemnitz xenophobic violence

Right-wing protesters have staged marches in the eastern German city of Chemnitz (AFP pic)

BERLIN: German police on Monday arrested six men on suspicion of participating in a far-right “terrorist” group that attacked foreigners in the restive city of Chemnitz.

The German nationals, aged 20 to 31 years old, were taken into custody for allegedly forming a group called “Revolution Chemnitz” with the aim of subverting the democratic state.

“To this end, they intended to launch violent and armed attacks against foreigners and people who have different political views,” said federal prosecutors in a statement.

Their targets included representatives of different political parties as well as members of the economic establishment, added prosecutors.

German authorities did not say if the suspects were involved in the wave of xenophobic marches that swept Chemnitz at the end of August following a fatal stabbing, allegedly by an asylum seeker.

But prosecutors said on September 14, five of the suspects “armed with glass bottles, weighted knuckle gloves, and an electroshock appliance, attacked and hurt several foreign residents” in Chemnitz.

“Investigations show that the assault was a test-run for an event that one of the accused planned for October 3, 2018,” said prosecutors, referring to Germany’s Unity Day on Wednesday.

What exactly was planned for the day remains the object of investigation.

The six arrested on Monday were identified as two 28-year-olds Sten E. and Hardy Christopher W., 20-year-old Martin H., 27-year-old Sven W., and 30-year-olds Marcel W. and Tom W.

One other suspect, 31-year-old Christian K., had already been detained on September 14 for serious public disorder.

More than 100 police officers were also deployed in searching apartments and other premises.

August’s week of xenophobic protests in Chemnitz deeply shocked Germany and prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel to urge Germans to stand up against the far right’s message of hate and division.

Merkel is due to visit Chemnitz in November, but she faces a cold reception as resentment runs deep in the city over her liberal refugee policy that led to the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers since 2015.