Accusations of manipulation, another child abuse scandal dragged out: NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) must fight for his office.
Under increasing pressure: NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) Photo: dpa
North Rhine-Westphalia’s CDU Interior Minister Herbert Reul is coming under increasing pressure because of police failures and allegations of manipulation. In the interior committee of the state parliament, Reul had to admit on Thursday afternoon that North Rhine-Westphalia’s police had massively slopped in a second case of child pornography after the thousand-fold sexual abuse at a campsite in Lugde in eastern Westphalia.
In addition, officers may have failed in investigations of Syrian civil war refugee Amad, who was detained without cause and burned in his cell. A. A. may have manipulated police IT systems in order to justify his arrest after the fact.
A physiotherapist and alternative practitioner from Bad Oeynhausen is at the center of the second child pornography scandal: During treatments, he allegedly took pornographic photos of at least two children. As early as November 2017, an IT specialist from Baden-Wurttemberg, who found the images during remote maintenance of the 60-year-old’s computers, alerted the police.
House searches failed
But the physiotherapist has only been in custody for a week: at first, nothing happened for months at the Minden-Lubbecke Criminal Investigation Department, which is responsible for the case, and then three search attempts failed – because the accused was not at home.
On the fourth attempt, the police promptly found "extensive evidence. The officials explain the fact that 16 months had passed by then by saying that they had wanted to meet the accused in person – after all, he could have been carrying child porn files around on his cell phone.
Interior Minister Reul considers this a "clear mistake": the investigation should have been "prioritized higher", he complains. Parallels to the Luegde scandal, in which eight suspects are now being investigated who are alleged to have abused at least 40 victims, are thus unmistakable: there, as much as 17 years had passed between the first tips and arrests.
Suspicion of subsequent falsification
The increasingly irritable Reul is also in need of explanation in the case of the Syrian Amad A., who was burned to death in his cell. Until now, the Ministry of the Interior and the police had explained his months-long, unprovoked detention with a hardly credible mix-up: a black African from Mali wanted by the Hamburg public prosecutor’s office had used the same alias.
According to research by the ARD magazine Monitor, however, this alias was only inserted into the police IT systems three days after the Syrian’s arrest – for this purpose, another cover name of the wanted man from Mali was simply overwritten.
If this were true, officials would have falsified official documents in order to justify the arrest of Amad A. after the fact. The public prosecutor’s office in Kleve, which is investigating the case, has so far kept a low profile: "The reporting will be taken into account in our investigations," Gunter Neifer, the senior public prosecutor in charge, told the taz.
Interior Minister Reul, who has promised the greatest possible transparency and rapid clarification in all three scandals, emphasizes that the allegations of manipulation are initially only a "suspicion". The opposition parties, on the other hand, are considering demands for Reul’s resignation: "If the interior minister cannot immediately and verifiably dispel the suspicion of a deliberate mix-up, there will be the accusation that the public and parliament were deliberately deceived," says Stefan Engstfeldt, the legal policy spokesman for the Greens in the state parliament, regarding the Amad A case. "If the investigation fails," threatens SPD parliamentary group leader Thomas Kutschaty, "Reul will fail.