Far-Right Attack Police Chief Long Reviled by NPD Leadership

An e-mail exchange shows the far-right NPD had a police chief on their radar for over a year before he was stabbed last Saturday. Alois Mannichl, now released from the hospital, has vowed to continue his "fight against right-wing extremism."

When Alois Mannichl, police chief of the Bavarian city of Passau, was stabbed on his porch last Saturday by an unknown right-wing assailant, the police immediately turned to the neo-Nazi community to look for potential suspects. Now new e-mails obtained by SPIEGEL suggest that the far-right National Democrat Party (NPD), often described as neo-Nazi organization, had been discussing Mannichl for well over a year before his near-assassination.

In May 2007, a rank-and-file NPD member from Passau sent an e-mail to the party's leadership complaining about Mannichl's hostility to right-wing groups, referring to him as a "democratic thug." The member asked for help from the central party organization, and he received a response from Frank Schwerdt, top legal adviser and right-hand man to Udo Voigt, the NPD's leader.

In an e-mail dated May 16, 2007, Schwerdt responded: "If something sensible were undertaken against your beloved police chief, it would have to be prepared and executed very precisely."

When confronted with the e-mails by SPIEGEL, Schwerdt said his comments referred only to potential legal proceedings against Mannichl. If the NPD decided to bring charges against the police chief, said Schwerdt, then the "gathering of facts" would have to be conducted carefully.

Mannichl had angered NPD members in January 2007 when he prevented Friedhelm Busse, a prominent former Nazi who has since died, from taking part in a public event. Busse, who was handicapped, had ignored a police barrier. Busse accused Mannichl of having hit him, whereupon Mannichl took him to court for defamation.

Busse's funeral earlier this year became a further flashpoint in Mannichl's bitter relations with the far right. After a press photo revealed that funeral guests had covered Busse's coffin with a Nazi flag, public prosecutors ordered the coffin exhumed and the flag removed. Since then, angry postings calling for violence against Mannichl have surfaced on the Internet.

Mannichl, for his part, was released from a Passau hospital on Friday after being treated for a stab wound that came within two centimeters of his heart.

'We Must Not Let Ourselves Be Intimidated'

Although visibly weakened, he adopted a strident tone in comments to reporters, declaring that he "would not cease" in his "fight against right-wing extremism." He let it be known that he deliberately exited the hospital through the main entrance to show that he would not let himself "be intimidated."

On Wednesday, a 33-year-old man named Manuel H. was arrested  along with his 22-year-old wife on accessory to murder charges connected with the Mannichl case. The stabber himself is still at large. Police say the suspect is between 25 and 35 years old, stands about 1.9 meters high (six feet three inches), and speaks a Bavarian dialect with possible Austrian influence.

In a statement as he left the hospital, Mannichl said his attacker had engaged in a "cowardly assault," and added that Germany could not retreat into "fear and terror." "I didn't simply want to shrink away through a back door (of the hospital)," he said. "It's important that we continue to stand up to right-wing radicalism."

Mannichl thanked the crowd for the outpouring of support he has received from across the country in the last week. He thanked his family and his doctors, and also God, for providing him with so many "guardian angels."

cpg -- with wire reports
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