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Teenager turns himself in for attack on German MEP

MEP during a European Parliament Plenary session in Strasbourg, 24 April 2024
MEP during a European Parliament Plenary session in Strasbourg, 24 April 2024 Copyright European Union 2024 - Source : EP
Copyright European Union 2024 - Source : EP
By Euronews with AP
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Matthias Ecke, a member of Germany's centre-left Social Democratic Party, was attacked on Saturday while out campaigning.

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A 17-year-old has reported himself at a police station in Dresden on Sunday after a European Parliament member was seriously injured in an attack the night before, authorities said. 

The teenager admitted to knocking down Matthias Ecke, who is running for re-election in the upcoming European Elections in June as the Social Democratic Party's (SPD) top candidate.

Ecke, 41, was taken to hospital and required surgery for his injuries, his party said on Saturday. 

According to domestic media, the teenager who turned himself in appeared in the company of a parent. 

The police are still looking for the other three attackers, who struck and kicked Ecke while putting up political posters in Striesen, the most populated neighbourhood of the eastern city of Dresden.

The same group had apparently attacked a Green Party worker minutes before in the same street.

'A new dimension of anti-democratic violence'

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, blasted the attack, calling it a "threat" to democracy.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, also from SPD, said if it's proven that the assault on Ecke was politically motivated, it would represent “a serious attack on democracy”.

The attack was the latest in a series of incidents raising political tensions in Germany ahead of the European Parliament election.  

Scholz's SPD launched their official campaign for the 9 June vote with a rally last week in Hamburg, where the German leader grew up.

“We are experiencing a new dimension of anti-democratic violence,” Faeser said. 

She promised “tougher action and further protective measures for the democratic forces in our country.”

Government and opposition parties say their members and supporters have faced a wave of physical and verbal attacks in recent months and have called on police to step up protection for politicians and election rallies.

Many of the incidents have occurred in the east of the country, where the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) is expected to make gains in the European elections and upcoming votes in Germany. 

The SPD has accused AfD's supporters for the attack on Ecke.

Last week, the car carrying Vice President of the German Bundestag Katrin Goering-Eckardt (Greens), was surrounded for nearly an hour by protesters as she tried to leave a rally. 

The opposition Christian Democrats and the Left party say their workers have also faced intimidation and seen their posters ripped down.

Mainstream parties accuse the AfD of links to violent neo-Nazi groups and of fomenting an increasingly harsh political climate. A prominent AfD leader, Bjoern Hoecke, is currently on trial accused of using a banned Nazi slogan. 

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Germany's domestic intelligence service has placed some chapters of the party under surveillance.

The branch of the Social Democrats in Saxony state, where Ecke is their lead candidate for the European elections, said their campaign would go on despite “fascist methods” of intimidation.

“The seeds that the AfD and other right-wing extremists have sown are germinating,” the branch leaders, Henning Homann und Kathrin Michel, said in a joint statement. "These people and their supporters carry responsibility for what is happening in this country.”

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