Special police units of the central German region of Hessen have detained a 45-year-old man suspected of killing the head of the regional council in Kassel, Walter Lübcke. Kassel’s public prosecutor and the Hessian State Office of Criminal Investigations reported that the suspect was taken into custody on Saturday.
“The arrest came on the basis of DNA evidence and the suspect appeared this afternoon before an investigating judge in Kassel,” said regional authorities.
According to Germany’s Bild tabloid, the suspect was already on the police’s radar due to a previous serious crime he committed – this is why a sample of his DNA was already stored on a database.
Prosecutors and police plan to give further information about the arrest and the results of their preliminary investigation this week. Bild has already reported that the 45-year-old suspect might have ties to the right-wing extremist scene, while the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper claimed that he might have been linked to right-wing extremist circles in the past.
A prosecution spokesman declined to comment on these reports.
Meanwhile, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper cited its security sources as saying that the suspect probably had contacts in the right-wing scene in the past, but it is not clear whether this is still the case.
Although Lübcke, who spoke out in favour of accommodating refugees in northern Hesse, is said to have been criticised by right-wingers and even reportedly received death threats, investigators have not said they’ve identified any such connection to his murder so far, RTL Online reports.
However, the broadcaster points out that following his death, some commenters on Facebook “reacted hatefully and maliciously,” evoking public anger. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that some social media users behaved in a "cynical, distasteful, abominable, [and] in every respect obnoxious" manner.
The 65-year-old politician from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, who was a member of the state parliament before heading the regional council, was discovered with head wounds on the night of 2 June on the terrace of his home. He died shortly after being found, leaving a wife and two grown children behind.
A special 50-member-strong commission, headed by the Hessian State Criminal Police Office, swiftly launched an investigation into his murder.