BERLIN (REUTERS) - German prosecutors said on Thursday (Feb 25) they had filed sedition and hate speech charges against a police commissioner suspected of sharing pictures of Adolf Hitler and images showing hostility towards Muslims, and possessing illegal weapons and explosives.
The 46-year-old suspect, who served at the police headquarters in the city of Wiesbaden, had shared pictures of the Nazi leader performing the Hitler salute with 30 others, including police officers, on WhatsApp, they said. German police and security agencies have faced accusations of not doing enough to unearth potentially violent nationalists in their ranks. This is a sensitive issue in a country where awareness of the World War Two genocide of millions of Jews by the Nazis under Hitler is strong.
The domestic intelligence agency said in a report last year that less than 1% of Germany's police force, security agencies and military personnel espouse far-right world views and sympathies. The report was part of a wider inquiry into far-right extremism in the civil service.
"The suspect shared pictures showing Adolf Hitler in uniform with an arm band bearing a swastika and performing the so-called Hitler salute with an outstretched right arm as well as images that convey hostility toward people with dark skin and Muslims,"Frankfurt Senior Public Prosecutor Nadja Niesen said. She said the suspect had shared the images in late 2018, and officers found firearms, heavy weapons and explosives during a search of his residence a year later.
She did not say why charges against him were being filed only now or how the suspect had pleaded. The suspect's brother, who was also a police commissioner and left the force voluntarily, is due to go on trial in April on charges of sharing illegal symbols, possessing illegal weapons and sharing secret police information with civilians, the prosecutor said.
A third police commissioner, who has been relieved of his duties, has been charged with sharing sensitive information from the police computer systems with civilians.