Germany is investigating whether hundreds of unsolved crimes committed since 1990 could be linked to neo-Nazis, after police drew criticism in recent months for failing to identify crimes motivated by far-right ideology.
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German authorities are reopening 746 unsolved cases involving the killing or attempted killing of 849 victims, Interior Ministry spokesman Hendrik Loerges said Wednesday. Results of the inquiry are expected during the course of 2014.
The 746 cases were flagged as possibly having neo-Nazi involvement out of 3,300 crimes committed between 1990 and 2011 in which no suspects were ever identified.
"We should wait to see how many of these cases get verified," Loerges said.
Germany was shocked by the 2011 revelation that 10 unsolved slayings from 2000 to 2007 had been racially motivated hate crimes, which police blamed on the far-right National Socialist Underground (NSU.)
The two alleged gunmen, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, killed themselves before they could be arrested. Beate Zschaepe, accused of being the third member of the NSU, is currently on trial in Munich as an accomplice to the killings, which claimed the lives of nine people of Turkish and Greek origin as well as one policewoman.
Rather than looking into racial motivations in the nine killings, police suspected the victims were involved in organized crime.
The NSU avoided detection by operating in secret and never issuing any claims of responsibility, police said. Even government informants operating within the neo-Nazi movement failed to register the NSU's existence.