BERLIN (AP) — A 50-year-old German far-right extremist suspected of carrying out a bloody bomb attack that injured 10 immigrants – six of them Jewish – in 2000 was arrested after bragging to fellow inmates about the crime, officials said Wednesday.
Duesseldorf prosecutors said the suspect, identified only as Ralf S. in line with Germany privacy laws, was arrested Tuesday in the nearby town of Ratingen, ending an almost 17-year hunt for the perpetrator.
The suspect had been a questioned by police soon after the bombing at Duesseldorf-Wehrhahn train station on July 27, 2000, but wasn’t arrested at the time due to a lack of evidence.
Prosecutors said they received a tip from a prisoner in 2014 that the man had bragged about the crime, prompting them to re-open the case and follow up 330 leads.
The victims were on their way home from a German-language class when the pipe bomb exploded. Among the wounded was a 26-year-old woman from Ukraine who suffered a miscarriage.
A few months after the attack, a Duesseldorf synagogue was firebombed, prompting fears of a wave of far-right violence. German news site Spiegel Online reported that the suspect was known for having extremist views and operated a store selling military gear near the site of the bombing.
Reacting to the arrest Wednesday, Germany’s interior minister acknowledged that officials had underestimated the threat of far-right violence for years, until the discovery in 2011 that a group of wanted neo-Nazis had committed a string of killings that police had initially blamed on rival immigrant gangs.
Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters that authorities are now working “to nip in the bud everything that happens in that regard.”
Duesseldorf prosecutor Ralf Herrenbrueck said he was confident the evidence that investigators had collected would be enough to secure a conviction.