Germany arrests former neo-Nazi chief in 32-year-old racist arson attack
Peter St. is suspected of being accessory to murder and accessory to attempted murder, says Federal Prosecutor's Office
Investigators from the German state of Saarland arrested a former neo-Nazi chief from the state capital of Saarlouis on Tuesday morning in a case related to a racist arson attack over three decades ago.
Peter St. is suspected of being an accessory to murder and an accessory to attempted murder, the Federal Prosecutor's Office said in a statement, without revealing his full name. In addition, another suspect is still under investigation, it added.
The murder trial for the arson attack on a shelter for asylum-seekers in Saarlouis, which took place 32 years ago, has been ongoing for months.
The former neo-Nazi leader is to be brought before the investigating judge at the Federal Supreme Court on Tuesday to decide whether the accused should be remanded in custody.
Peter St. had previously appeared as a witness in the trial but had refused to testify because he ran the risk of incriminating himself.
According to security authorities, shortly before the arson attack, there had been a meeting in a pub where the now-arrested person is said to have advocated attacks on asylum-seekers' shelters.
With reference to the racially motivated riots in East German Hoyerswerda in 1991, the suspect is said to have declared that there must also be a fire in Saarlouis.
The Federal Prosecutor's Office now considers this to be an accessory to murder and an accessory to attempted murder.
The arrested individual did not incite the main accused Peter St. to commit the act, nor was he directly involved in setting the fire. However, he provided at least psychological assistance, it said.
In addition, investigations are still underway in the murder case against a third suspect, a spokeswoman for the Federal Prosecutor's Office in Karlsruhe confirmed this to the public broadcaster SR on Tuesday.
In the arson attack on a shelter for asylum-seekers in Saarlouis on Sept. 19, 1991, the Ghanaian refugee Samuel Kofi Yeboah was killed. Two refugees jumped from a window and suffered broken bones.
In 2020, the police in Saarland set up a special commission to reinvestigate Yeboah's murder as no responsible person could be identified until then.
It was not until April 2022 that former neo-Nazi leader Peter S., who was known to the police, was arrested, as circumstantial evidence against him led to an urgent suspicion of the crime.
German state authorities have long been criticized for underestimating the far-right threat and failing to seriously investigate crimes committed by right-wing extremists.