Opposition accuses German govt of impeding 2016 attack probe

BERLIN (AP) — Opposition parties accused the German government Friday of hampering the work of a parliamentary investigation into a 2016 truck attack in which an Islamist extremist killed 12 people and injured dozens more at Christmas market in Berlin. A cross-party panel is due to deliver its final report on the attack soon. But lawmakers from the Greens, the Free Democrats and the Left party alleged that witnesses dodged questions on what intelligence agencies knew about the attacker, Anis Amri.

Security officials portrayed him as a “lone culprit” although the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. Benjamin Strasser, a lawmaker for the centrist Free Democrats, accused Germany’s governing parties of trying to “put a lid on this case” and asserted that the government had repeatedly withheld important files from parliament. The opposition lawmakers said evidence showed that Amri, a failed asylum-seeker, had been part of a “network” of extremists in Germany and abroad who provided training, logistical and financial support.

Irene Mihalic, a Green party representative on the investigative panel, said lawmakers were unable during three years of hearings to get answers about Amri’s meeting shortly before the attack with two other known Islamists, one of whom was later spotted at the scene. DNA found in the driver’s cabin of the hijacked truck used in the attack so far hasn’t been linked to anyone, while the source of a gun Amri used to kill the truck’s driver remains unclear, Mihalic said. Amri managed to flee Germany but was killed in a shootout with Italian police days after the attack.

Mihalic noted that Amri had a large sum of cash on him when he died, the source of which also hasn’t been determined. Martina Renner of the Left party said the case showed that important information wasn’t shared between various state and federal security agencies, while key decisions by police and intelligence officials weren’t documented. A separate inquiry in 2017 concluded that security agencies may have missed an opportunity to arrest Amri months before the attack.

The three opposition parties called for Germany to recognize March 11 as the official day of remembrance for victims of terrorism. The European Union adopted such an observance day on the anniversary of the 2004 bombings by Islamic extremists in Madrid that killed 191 people. Copyright (C) The Associated Press.

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