The public prosecutor’s office has dropped almost all proceedings against 16 SEK police officers in Münster for right-wing, misogynist and child pornography content. The reasoning is surprising.
The public prosecutor’s office in Münster (North-Rhine Westphalia) has dropped 15 out of 16 preliminary proceedings against members of the Special Unit in Münster. This was first reported by the “Westfalen-Blatt” on Sunday, referring to the spokesperson and deputy head of the prosecutor’s office, Martin Botzenhardt. According to the report, the suspects will not be charged for chats with Hitler images, racist and misogynist content as well as sexualised depictions of children and youths in a Whatsapp group.
The Bielefeld police headquarters had been investigating the case for a year after a mobile phone analysis of right-wing extremist and violence-glorifying postings by another SEK officer on a messenger service initially revealed eight suspects in the chat group in question. Seven of them belonged to the Münster Special Unit. In November, a report to the interior committee of the state parliament revealed that the number of accused officers had risen to 16. They are said to have worked in various presidencies of the state, as well as in the state office for training, further training and personnel matters.
Right-wing extremist statements allowed in closed chat group
A spokesperson for the public prosecutor’s office in Münster confirmed to “nd” that the prosecution of criminal offences such as incitement of the people, depictions of violence or the use of symbols of anti-constitutional organisations require the characteristic of publicity. However, it was a closed chat group. Furthermore, the contents of the chat group had not disturbed the “public peace”, she said.
It could also not be proven that child and youth pornographic images had been deliberately received. Such a “will to possess” – for example through approving comments – could not be proven for all participants, the spokeswoman said. Therefore, 13 cases were dropped due to lack of suspicion.
Two of the officers had been proven to have posted the content, but here, too, the case was dropped after they had paid four-digit sums of money last month. This took into account that the incidents occurred in 2017 and 2018, before possession of child and youth pornography was made a crime by a federal law in July 2021.
In the case of the last accused, the public prosecutor’s office also suggested that a payment might be imposed to halt the case, but according to the spokeswoman, he has not yet commented on this. Nine officers are still under disciplinary investigation. However, all of the former defendants are back on duty, so further consequences are unlikely.
Officials in Hesse and Saxony-Anhalt also get off scot-free
By the beginning of this year, the public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt had already ended investigations against several SEK officers because of inciting content in a chat group, including Nazi symbols. Eight cases were dropped, and a ninth on condition, reported the “Frankfurter Rundschau”. In five cases, penalty orders were issued, against one of which the convicted person appealed, the proceedings were finally discontinued against payment of a sum of money. Investigations against two of the accused were not pursued further due to insignificance. In three cases, the public prosecutor’s office brought charges and in one case discontinued the case against payment of €6,000.
Also in January, two police bodyguards from the “direct entourage” of Saxony-Anhalt’s Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU) got off scot-free. The members of the Mobile Task Force (MEK) were suspected of exchanging pictures and texts with anti-constitutional, right-wing extremist content in chat groups. However, the public prosecutor’s office did not start an investigation – similar to the one in Münster – because the shared content was not punishable, they said.
Published in German in „nd“.
Image: You wouldn’t want to meet them in the dark: Special Unit of the Hessian Police (Polizei Hessen).