Left-wing politician on right-wing violence: “how far does it have to go?”

In Erfurt, twelve suspected neo-Nazis allegedly beat up three men. The suspects are free again. Katharina Konig-Preuss criticizes this.

In the district of Herrenberg, twelve suspected neo-Nazis beat up three men from Guinea Photo: Bodo Schackow/dpa

site: Ms. Konig-Preuss, in Erfurt, twelve suspected neo-Nazis beat three men from Guinea so violently that two of them had to go to hospital, one seriously injured. Afterwards, you strongly criticized the public prosecutor’s office – why?

Katharina Konig-Preuss: The public prosecutor’s office didn’t even file an arrest request, the twelve people are at large again. How far does it have to go for neo-Nazis to be given the limits that are legally possible? One of those attacked was in critical condition in the meantime. Due to the apparently organized nature of the attack, I think one can assume a conditional intent to kill or even attempted manslaughter. Thus, there would be grounds for imprisonment. However, the public prosecutor’s office did not even try – this sends a devastating message.

The suspects are being investigated for grievous bodily harm and breach of the peace. Isn’t that the most important thing?

I’ll be honest: I think the rapid detention of twelve people, the involvement of the LKA, and the actions of the police are really good. Nevertheless, the question is: What signals are being sent to the public? To the victims and residents? And to the perpetrators? There have been several threats and attempted attacks on Herrenberg. Now neo-Nazis beat someone into the hospital, and a few hours later they are out again and can carry on as before: spreading their ideology and training martial arts – only to do at night what they did: beat a person half to death.

is the spokesperson for anti-fascism and anti-racism for the Left Party in the Thuringian state parliament.

According to the public prosecutor’s office, the necessary grounds for an arrest request are not present – for example, danger of collusion or flight.

Based on my political assessment, I would tend to assume a risk of collusion in the case of organized neo-Nazis. Evidence can disappear or agreements can be made as to who says what and what not during interrogation. And: I know of cases in which an application for arrest was filed in the case of an assumed intent to kill. That would have signaled that the state was taking all possible measures to stop neo-Nazis. A court should have examined whether this would have gone through. The public prosecutor’s office should have taken its chances.

Thuringia’s SPD Interior Minister Georg Maier has also expressed his "horror" that the suspects have been released. What good are statements from politicians?

I do believe that such statements can lead the public prosecutor’s office to at least think twice next time about whether an application for arrest would not be the right course of action after all.

But the judiciary is supposed to work independently of politics for a good reason.

The independence of the judiciary exists regardless of whether there are demands from politics. I will continue to criticize it if I cannot understand the behavior of the judiciary. I am a politician, not a subordinate of the judiciary. And I see that not everything that could be done has been done. It is not only about this attack now: For five years, this neo-Nazi center on Herrenberg was allowed to run. There were Nazi concerts, meetings of the Third Way and martial arts trainings there. These people openly say what they are up to. If no limits are set to this, a brutal attack like the present one must unfortunately surprise no one.

The suspects are said to come from the circle of the Third Way. You have called for a ban on this right-wing extremist micro-party. Why?

Because the Third Way is related to the ideology of National Socialism, because it continuously attacks human dignity with its concept of "White Supremacy", because it contests elections – also in Thuringia – with this ideology and spreads racist and anti-Semitic agitation within it. And because I think it is necessary to implement repressive measures against neo-Nazi structures wherever possible. Yes, in the end you do not ban their ideology. But you deprive them, for example, of the opportunity to spread racism and anti-Semitism in the public sphere, even free of charge, during election campaigns. That alone is worth it.

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