Berlin: Twenty-nine police officers were suspended from duty in Germany on Wednesday and many of them are to be sacked after they were caught sharing "disgusting" far-right material online.
Mocked-up images of refugees in a gas chamber and a black child being shot were among the content shared by the officers in private online chats. They also shared pictures of Hitler, swastikas and concentration camps.
"We are talking about the worst, most disgusting neo-Nazi, racist, anti-refugee agitation," said Herbert Reul, the regional interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia. "I tell you, in my opinion this is a disgrace for the NRW police. These people have thrown away the right to wear the uniform."
Herbert Reul, Minister of the Interior of North Rhine-Westphalia, speaking after a right-wing extremist chat groups in North Rhine-Westphalia with the participation of police officers was discovered. Credit:AP
The officers are understood to include six women and some with an immigrant background. Fourteen are to be summarily dismissed while the remaining 15 are considered only to have received the images and face disciplinary action. Eleven of those responsible for sharing the most extreme images face criminal charges.
The private chat group only came to light by chance, after the mobile phone of one of the officers was searched in connection with another matter.
The officer was under investigation on suspicion of passing operational secrets to a journalist. Investigators discovered more than 100 far-Right images in his private chats.
All those involved are members of the NRW police, including 25 in Essen. Some are understood to be based in nearby Muelheim, which comes under the command of the Essen force.
"I am deeply dismayed by this inexcusable misconduct and can only say with absolute clarity that there is no place in the Essen police headquarters for people who identify with such far-Right-wing ideology," Frank Richter, the Essen police chief, said.
"Fighting the far-Right is part of the police's DNA," the German Police Union said. "The fact there are officials who share far-Right, xenophobic content in chat groups is unbearable."
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