Four right-wing youths were charged with murder Thursday in the arson deaths of five Turks last May in Solingen in western Germany, the federal prosecutor’s office announced.
The charges capped a seven-month investigation into the attack, which claimed more victims than any other act of anti-foreigner violence since German reunification in 1990. The slayings touched off several days of rioting by Germany’s large Turkish population and prompted international demands that Bonn crack down harder on right-wing terror.
Stung by criticism that German justice is “blind in the right eye” when it comes to prosecuting right-wing offenders, federal and state officials have tried in the past year to intensify their crackdown on neo-fascist extremists.
The accused were identified only as two juveniles, both 16, and two adults, Markus G., 24, and Christian B., 20. All have been in police custody for seven months.
The indictment sets the stage for a trial in Duesseldorf, probably in early 1994. The announcement of the charges by the federal prosecutor in Karlsruhe followed recent speculation in the German press that investigators were having difficulty amassing enough evidence to bring the case to trial.
Manfred Hofmann, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said in a telephone interview that the delay in bringing charges was to ensure that the “investigation was carried out thoroughly and carefully.” The defendants were charged with five counts of murder, 14 counts of attempted murder and aggravated arson.