Families fear for their lives, blame German authorities after racist murders

2 years after the Hanau terror attack, families of victims say they are living in fear due to continued threats

Cetin Gultekin, whose brother was killed in the terror attack. Photo: AA

Nearly two years after a far-right terror attack in Hanau, the victims’ families are blaming German authorities for a string of catastrophic failings and saying they are living in fear due to continued threats.

On Feb.19, 2020, racist extremist Tobias Rathjen killed nine young people in the city of Hanau before killing himself and his mother in their home. All the victims had migrant backgrounds.

Cetin Gultekin, whose brother was killed in the terror attack, told that many questions are still unanswered about the failures of the authorities.

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The far-right extremist had sent several letters to authorities months before the attack and did not hide his racist motivations, but they failed to act until it was too late, he said.

Cetin Gultekin, whose brother was killed in the terror attack. Photo: AA

“We still don’t understand why prosecutors did not take necessary measures, why they did not send at least two police officers to search his home, as they knew that he legally possessed two guns,” he said.

The 43-year-old assailant posted videos on the internet detailing his xenophobic views and ethnic cleansing plans several days before the attack.

Investigations later revealed that he was known to police for mental health problems, at least since 2002, but still, he managed to obtain a firearms license.

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Gultekin said two years after the attack, the families of victims still feel threatened, this time by the assailant’s father.

“His son killed my brother, and now he’s threatening to kill us,” he said, adding that 74-year-old Hans-Gerd Rathjen, who’s living in the same neighborhood, keeps talking about getting rid of foreigners.

“He is like a ticking time bomb, ready to explode anytime,” he warned and renewed his call on authorities to take necessary measures to prevent another racist attack in the city.

Hans-Gerd Rathjen has not condemned the terror attack so far and also argued that his son was innocent. According to local media reports, the man is known to authorities as a follower of conspiracy theories and racist and xenophobic views.

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Germany has witnessed growing racism in recent years fueled by far-right parties, which have exploited fears about a refugee crisis.

Authorities are facing criticism, especially from the human rights organizations, for underestimating the far-right threat and not seriously investigating crimes committed by right-wing extremists.

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