German Police Investigating After Far-right Protesters Praise Politician's Murder

In video, anti-Islam rally participants say slain pro-immigration politician was a traitor ■ Suspect retracts confession, lawyer says

A protester holds a poster with a manipulated image of Angela Merkel at a PEGIDA rally in Dresden, Germany, in January 2015.
A protester holds a poster with a manipulated image of Angela Merkel at a PEGIDA rally in Dresden, Germany, in January 2015.Credit: AP Photo/Jens Meyer

German police said on Friday they had opened a criminal investigation after a broadcaster published video of far-right protesters speaking approvingly of the murder of a politician.

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A documentary crew from ARD public television filmed protesters at a demonstration of the anti-immigration Pegida movement justifying last month's murder of Walter Luebcke, a conservative politician known for his pro-immigration views.

The video, filmed at a rally in the eastern city of Dresden, came as polls showed the public is increasingly concerned at the threat of far-right violence after years when authorities' focus has been on the risk from militant Islamists.

Participants in Monday's anti-Islam Pegida rally told the film crew that Luebcke, an outspoken defender of Chancellor Angela Merkel's 2015 decision to welcome over a million refugees, was a traitor to the nation.

A German far-right sympathizer charged with Luebcke's murder has retracted his confession, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

On Friday, police said they were investigating a suspected case of praising a criminal act, a crime under German law.

Armin Laschet, deputy head of Merkel's Christian Democrats and premier of Germany's largest state, tweeted: "In what times are we living, when people approve of murder before a running camera?"

An Infratest Dimap poll found 66 percent of Germans thought the state too often went easy on neo-Nazis and the far-right, and 71 percent thought there was a major threat from far-right violence, compared to 60 percent and 41 percent who thought the same of Islamist and far-left violence respectively.

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