Have thousands of war criminals sought asylum in Germany in recent years? A newspaper report alleges authorities failed to investigate a large amount of leads they received at the height of the refugee crisis.
Thousands of pieces of evidence suggesting war criminals were seeking asylum in Germany were left unprocessed according to a report published Thursday in the mass-circulation Bild daily, citing a parliamentary inquiry by the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP).
Between 2014 and the beginning of 2019, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) referred up to 5,000 cases of "crimes under international law" to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Attorney General. However, only 129 cases were investigated.
An Interior Ministry spokesperson told the newspaper that the "large number of referrals prevented immediate investigation of each case." That was most notable in 2015 and 2016. About 3,800 referrals were made during this period, but only 28 were probed further.
Linda Teuteberg of the FDP, who sits on the parliamentary committee for internal affairs, said that war criminals should not be afforded protection in Germany. "I have doubts as to whether the federal government has always pursued this in the past few years with due seriousness."
Germany allowed nearly 900,000 irregular migrants to enter the country in 2015 under Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy. Many of them were fleeing war and extreme poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. At the time, Merkel cited the brutal conflict in Syria for her decision.
Since then, the number has significantly dwindled. Last year, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the figure was far below the 220,000 projected in 2018.