German police and judiciary have accused Hamburg Justice Minister Till Steffen of delaying the release of pictures of the Christmas market attacker Anis Amri because he was worried about provoking “racist” comments on Facebook.
Green Party politician Steffen cited “privacy concerns” when he initially prevented law enforcers from releasing pictures of Anis Amri.
However, it has been claimed by members of the judiciary and the police that Steffen, who is the head of the judicial authority in Hamburg, denied the release of images of Amri because he was concerned it would incite racial hatred.
It is alleged that he only released images after a 12-hour delay following a call from German newspaper Bild.
Joachim Lenders, Hamburg’s chief of police, told Bild:
“It is incomprehensible to throw such a spanner in the works of investigators. Steffen is incompetent.”
Parliamentary leader André Trepoll, who is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, called “Scandalsenator” Steffen a “security risk” for delaying the search for the world’s most wanted man.
Accusing the Hamburg justice minister of “fetishising” data protection, Trepoll added: “Green data protection fetishism should not delay the public search for a terror suspect.”
CDU judiciary spokesman Richard Seelmaeker called for a special meeting of the Justice Committee, stressing: “Anis Amri allegedly murdered twelve people, but instead of using all means necessary to search for him, Hamburg’s green justice senator was more concerned about the state of comments in a Facebook post – which hindered our police.”
“If the allegations against Steffen are proven true, he can no longer hold the position of senator,” the CDU judicial expert added.
Calls for his resignation were also made by the anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Dirk Nockemann, the party’s spokesman, said: “It is an incredible and scandalous process … [Steffen’s] concerns are unstable and far-fetched.”
Amri was shot dead after he drew a weapon on an Italian police officer at a checkpoint in Milan on Friday.