Cat Fight Officials Dispute Who Should Pay for Suspect's Pets

Since her arrest in November on suspicion of being part of a neo-Nazi terror cell involved in 10 murders over the past decade, Beate Zschäpe's cats have been held by an animal shelter in Germany. This week, an argument went public between the shelter and federal police, who are refusing to pay for the pet's upkeep.

One of Beate Zschäpe's cats is pictured at the Zwickau shelter here.

One of Beate Zschäpe's cats is pictured at the Zwickau shelter here.

A bizarre dispute has broken out in Germany over cats taken into custody that belong to an alleged member of a suspected neo-Nazi terror cell. An official at an animal shelter in the eastern state of Thuringia, says it may file a lawsuit against Germany's Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA), over who should pay for the upkeep of Beate Zschäpe's cats.

The felines are being cared for in a shelter in Zwickau, where Zschäpe lived until she blew up her home and turned herself in to police last November. Zschäpe is believed to be involved in a series of 10 murders over the last decade targeting people mainly of Turkish descent. A policewoman was also killed.

Zschäpe's two cats were initially given to a neighbor, but the local police then turned them over to the Zwickau animal shelter. German public television station MDR first reported on the plight of the felines on Wednesday night.

Michael Sperlich, the shelter's treasurer, told SPIEGEL ONLINE he is outraged at how criminal justice authorities have dealt with the facility, which so far has accumulated costs of more than €1,000 ($1,300) in providing care for the cats.

Local police paid the shelter for three days and then said the BKA was responsible for the pets. But the BKA has refused to pay, saying it doesn't own the cats, Sperlich said.

In addition, Sperlich said the BKA told him it's the shelter's job to figure out who legally owns the animals. Sperlich says that's not true and asks how he's supposed to get information from Zschäpe, who is being held in a federal prison. "That's what government agencies are for," he said.

Sperlich said he decided to go to the press with his dilemma because he's not satisfied with the response he's gotten so far from the authorities. Depending on how the BKA responds, he said he may pursue legal action against the agency.


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