German police conduct raids in connection to G20 riots
06 Dec 2017, 01:42 ( 9 days ago)
German security forces have searched more than 20 apartments and community centers associated with far-left activists on Tuesday, as part of their investigations into riots which accompanied the Hamburg G20 summit in July this year.
The raids were conducted simultaneously in several locations across the country, including Hamburg, Berlin, Hesse, North-Rhine Westphalia, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Rhineland-Palatine.
The objective of the searches was to secure evidence of involvement in violent protests which lasted for several days surrounding the G20 conference.
Police have since established a special investigatory commission, which is currently assessing surveillance footage based on 25,000 individual video recordings. Security authorities have estimated that they will launch a total of 3,000 investigations in connection to the widely-publicized riots.
German media reported that raids on Tuesday were primarily focused on the far-left group "Roter Aufbau", which had openly threatened violence in Hamburg, as well as participants in one particularly violent clash between police and protestors on the sidelines of the summit.
According to German newspaper WELT, the Hamburg Public Prosecution Office is investigating 21 individuals in connection to the latter event on suspicion of seriously disturbing the public peace.
German broadcaster NDR reported it had received information that the special investigatory commission believes that left-wing extremist from Hamburg had planned the escalation of protests for months.
However, reports which surfaced after the raids also claimed that far-left activists were already tipped-off about the police searches on Monday.
The newspaper Berliner Zeitung wrote that left-wing activists had sent messages with their cellphones, warning about the imminent crackdown. One of these messages urged its recipients to "destroy all things in connection to July (Documents, Clothing)".
The magazine SPIEGEL further cited tweet made by Berlin university student Jan Zimmermann on Monday night: "Dear Comrades, I recommend cleaning up your apartments and computers particularly thoroughly tonight."
Shortly thereafter, Zimmerman retweeted a message of another user which similarly called on left-wing activists to "tidy up".
"If the cops have 20,000h of video material from Hamburg #G20, they would surely love to see who has which pieces of clothing in their wardrobe and whether they can find them again on their videos," the tweet further read.
According to SPIEGEL reports, investigators were aware on Monday that some of the suspects they were targeting had been warned in advance.
Speaking at a press conference later in the day, Jan Hieber, director of the G20 special investigatory commission, said that police had noticed "indications of certain unease" in the far-left scene.
So far, German state prosecutors have launched 60 criminal proceedings against suspected rioters. Most are accused of severely disturbing the public peace. A judiciary spokesperson confirmed that eight individuals remained in custody as of Tuesday.
The dramatic events surrounding the Hamburg G20 subject continue to form the subject of heated discussion in Germany.
Whilst witnessing calls for a more aggressive approach from authorities against left-wing extremism from several politicians, video images of the riots have also sparked a debate over whether police used excessive force against protestors.