12 March 2014

The Hessian domestic secret service – where protecting the office is job number one.

Today saw the testimony of Lutz Irrgang, former director of the Hessian “Office for the Protection of the Constitution”, i.e. the domestic secret service, as well as that of former agent Andreas Temme. After the murder of Halit Yozgat, the secret service had done all it could to cover for Temme, who had been at the crime scene, and his sources. The Hessian interior ministry had severely hampered the work of the police and influenced the investigations.

Irrgang claims not to have noticed any of this, a claim that can be explained in two ways: either he perjured himself today or his rather small office in fact succeeded in keeping important information from its director and sabotaging the work of police and prosecution behind his back. Irrgang stated that he had been on vacation at the time of the murder, that he had only been informed of Temme’s presence at the crime scene a week later, and that he had promised the police chief that his office would “retreat from the case”.

When Temme was taken into detention and his involvement became public, the witness went on, the agency’s most important task was to keep up the work of its Kassel office and ensure its security. This task had been made tougher by the fact that the police had “accompanied” the work of the office with “technical measures” – in other words, the police had tapped the secret service’s phones. It seems that the entire focus of the secret service at that time was to safeguard its own work and protect it informers from being publicly identified.

There were no changes to the structure or personnel of the agency in the aftermath of this case – the office simply suspended Temme and decided that this solved all problems.

One statement made by the former director showed that he had indeed understood the importance of what had happened in Kassel: he stated that he was convinced that clearing up this crime would become harder once it became public that an officer of the secret service was present at the crime scene, as this would force the perpetrators to “re-position” themselves. He presented this as a reason why Temme’s involvement should have been kept from the public.

This statement shows the cynicism of an agency concerned only with its own interests. In order to protect its own personnel and for a vague hope of an accelerated clearing of the crime, the office wanted to keep the involvement of Temme secret. The witness claims today that the press reports on Temme led the perpetrators to believe that the secret service was on to them and therefore to change their strategy. In fact, the murder in Kassel was the last of the NSU’s murders of migrant men, the NSU switched targets and in 2007 killed a police officer and attempted to kill her partner. According to Irrgang’s theory, then, the press reports on Temme led to the series of NSU murders being interrupted – but until today, the witness wishes that Temme’s identity had been kept secret and would have accepted further murders. His hope that this would have led to a quicker solution of the murders has been debunked – after all, the secret service, like the police and other agencies, followed the theory that they had been committed by migrants, Turks or islamists. It should be noted, however, that Irrgang’s thesis only makes sense if he was convinced of a political background to the murders back then.

Temme himself was unable to clear up the many contradictions to his own statement. He continues to claim that he does not remember anything. His questioning could, again, not be completed today. He will have to appear in court at least one more time.