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Murder of CDU politician Walter Lübcke does not indicate increased terrorism risks from Combat 18 in Germany

On 2 June 2019, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politician Walter Lübcke, the head of local government in Kassel district, was shot dead in the garden of his house in Wolfhagen-Istha, near Kassel, in Hesse. On 15 June, police arrested a 45-year old Kassel resident, Stephan Ernst, and charged him with the murder of Lübcke. On 25 June, the suspect reportedly confessed to killing Lübcke and led investigators to a weapons depot where they found a .38 calibre revolver suspected of being used to kill Lübcke. On 2 July, after having changed his lawyer, the suspect revoked his confession.

News magazine Der Spiegel on 26 June quoted investigators who said that the suspect had admitted killing Lübcke because of the latter’s political stance towards refugees. Lübcke had spoken at a number of town hall meetings on the subject of emergency shelters for refugees that were opened in the autumn of 2015. According to television news programme Tagesschau on 26 June, in one such meeting, on 14 October 2015 in Lohfelden, Lübcke was confronted by local far-right opponents of welcoming refugees, including the suspect. At the meeting, Lübcke had defended his stance towards refugees, saying, “It’s worth living in our country, and we have to take our values seriously. Whoever doesn’t subscribe to these values can leave this country, this is every German’s liberty.” Subsequently, far-right activists published a video of Lübcke’s statement on social media, making him the target of a campaign of far-right online hate speech.

In his confession statement, cited in media reports including Der Spiegel

Police escort the main suspect in the killing of German politician Walter Lübcke back into custody following a hearing on 2 July. (Uli Deck/AFP/Getty Images)

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