BAMF case: Bremen Prosecutor’s Office investigating own investigators

by Thorsten Koch

The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Bremen has initiated proceedings for suppression of documents after a group of investigators in the so-called BAMF affair allegedly failed to consider exculpatory material. The affair is a matter that received great attention in 2018, and in which numerous asylum seekers are said to have been granted the right of asylum without proper reason. In most cases, these asylum seekers were Yazidis. The BAMF is the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

An unnamed whistleblower, who is said to have belonged to the investigators in the BAMF affair, announced that the investigations had been carried out unilaterally by up to 40 investigators. The BAMF head of office would have been relieved by e-mails. According to the whistleblower, the majority of asylum cases was correctly decided upon by the BAMF branch office. Out of “desperation” that the allegations against the head of the BAMF branch office in Bremen did not match the results of the investigations, the investigators then questioned former asylum seekers directly, in order to arrive at “incriminating facts,” according to the whistleblower. There could perhaps have been racism involved, because the investigators had focused on lawyers of Turkish origin, he cautioned.

No main hearing – so far

The BAMF branch office, according to the original suspicion, had committed abuse in deciding upon asylum applications in around 1,200 cases. According to NDR channel and SZ newspaper, the investigations that followed were based, in part, on incorrect results from an internal auditing carried out by the Nuremberg BAMF headquarters.

The Bremen Regional Court refused a main hearing last week and only allowed for a few points to be considered. The letter from the whistleblower played no role, as yet, the regional court said in a statement.

The lawyer for the former BAMF head of branch called for clarification. The lawyer added that a secret was being made of the composition of the investigative team, stressing the claim that it was time to question all BAMF officials, all police officers and clerks at the Bremen Public Prosecutor’s Office involved, and ask them to provide official explanations.

Perpetrators “marked in advance?”

A defense attorney for an accused legal attorney in the BAMF affair, against whom an indictment has already been denied, said that he was assuming the following scenario: perpetrators were marked in advance and then it was searched for fitting facts by the investigators.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Bremen answered to a press request that witnesses had already been heard and that no statement could yet be made about the ongoing investigation. The parties of the defendants in the BAMF case especially criticize the fact that the Bremen Public Prosecutor’s Office was named to act against its own investigative group, instead of an independent instance.

In the 2018 BAMF affair, the Federal Ministry of the Interior previously had 18,000 asylum notifications checked. However, no particular abnormalities were encountered. In terms of statistics, too, the Bremen branch was within the national norm.

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