Investigators have raided officers’ homes and offices amid an ongoing inquiry into document forgery in the case of Berlin terrorist Anis Amri. It is alleged that Amri’s criminal history was downplayed to justify police inaction prior to the assault.
Since Friday, police have raided seven places, including offices and apartments, of five Berlin criminal police officers linked to this case, German media report, citing Martin Steltner, the spokesman for the Berlin Prosecutor’s Office.
Only one of them is currently accused of document forgery and obstruction of justice while the others are regarded as witnesses. The identity of the prime suspect has not been publicly revealed and Steltner did not comment on whether he is still a serving officer.
During the raids, the investigators seized mobile phones, laptops and memory drives of the officers in question. The devices are expected to help the investigators reveal whether the officers discussed the Amri case and conspired to downplay the significance of the attacker’s criminal history, thus justifying the police inaction prior to the December Berlin Christmas market attack.
Earlier, the Berlin government’s special investigator and a former federal public prosecutor, Bruno Jost, found out that a police report on Amri’s involvement into the drug trade was allegedly falsified and post-dated to after the Christmas market attack.
An earlier, 10-page version of the report compiled before the attack, on November 1, contained evidence suggesting that Amri was a “professional” large-scale drug dealer who was a member of an organized criminal gang, the German Berliner Morgenpost daily reports.
However, after the attack, the Berlin government’s committee for Internal Affairs received a four-page document that presented Amri as a petty criminal, who only “occasionally” sold drugs and was not worthy of much attention, while the initial report never reached government officials.
Now, the investigators also have to establish if Amri could have been detained prior to the attack due to timely police action, the German Die Zeit daily reports.
Last week, Berlin’s Interior Minister Andreas Geisel initiated legal proceedings against the person who compiled the apparently falsified report. However, the man in question is on paid leave at the moment, Berlin Morgenpost writes.
In the meantime, Jost is going to question another police officer who processed Amri’s case. The parliament in Berlin also plans to establish a special committee to investigate this document forgery case.
The committee is expected to start working before the parliament’s summer recess after Jost presents his report on the preliminary results of the investigation on July 3.
Amri, a Tunisian-born refugee, rammed a lorry into a crowd at Berlin Christmas market in December, killing 12 people.
He then managed to escape from Germany within days of the attack and was shot dead by Italian police during a shootout outside the city of Milan.
Following the attack, the German criminal police officers came under fire as it was revealed that Amri was previously known to police but efforts to track him landed in bureaucratic communications between federal and regional police agencies and he eventually went off the security services radar.