Germany's interior ministry has confirmed that two police officers in the southern state of Baden-Wurttemberg were once members of the Ku Klux Klan's European branch - and were allowed to keep their jobs when police discovered their links to the far-right organisation.
Reacting to a report in German newspaper Der Spiegel, a ministry spokesperson said that the two officers, both of whom remain in active service, regularly attended meetings of the European White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (EWK) for several months in 2002.
Authorities discovered the officers' attendance in 2003, when they raided the apartment of the EWK's leader. Although the two men were subjected to a formal disciplinary procedure, they were not dismissed.
According to Der Spiegel, the two officers convinced their superiors that they were unaware of the racist nature of the organisation until they met "an aggressive neo-Nazi from eastern Germany with tattoos of Adolf Hitler".
Officer's link to racist murders
Furthermore, it has emerged that one of the officers was the direct superior of Michele Kiesewetter, the officer whose murder in 2007 is thought to have been pepetrated by a neo-Nazi cell the National Socialist Underground (NSU).
The cell, which consisted of three members, killed eight Turks and one Greek between 2000 and 2006. However their activities went undetected until November, when a failed bank robbery led to two members committing suicide and the third surrendering to police.
Politicians in Germany are now demanding an urgent inquiry into whether the two policemen led the murderers to Kiesewetter.
"Whether there was a connection between [the officers'] Ku Klux Klan membership and the murder of police officer Michèle Kiesewetter remains to be seen," said Sebastian Edathy, chairman of a federal parliamentary inquiry into neo-Nazi terrorism in Germany.
However, investigators say there is no evidence of any direct connection between the officers' far-right sympathies and Kiesewetter's murder.
"There isn't a single indication that other people or organizations besides the NSU could have been involved in the crime, in whatever forms that might be," a spokesperson for the Federal Prosecutor's Office told Die Tageszeitung.
The State's Interior Ministry confirmed reports that two police officers in the southern state of Baden-Wurttemberg had been involved in meeting with the European White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (EWK), Der Spiegel reported.
EWK operated in Baden-Wurttemberg between 2000 and 2002.
However, investigators have turned down any connection with her shooting and the two officers.
But officials with the federal government in Berlin and members of the investigative committee on the NSU are discovering plenty of information on the two former EWK members in their files, Der Spiegel reported.
In February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel apologised for the authorities' failure to tackle the NSU.
Speaking at a memorial event held at a Berlin concert house, attended by officials and relatives of the victims, Merkel said the far-right killings were "a disgrace for our country". As some of the victims' relatives were unjustly suspected in the murders, she told them: "I ask for forgiveness."