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German lawmakers to probe security agencies over far-right killing

BERLIN (AP) — German lawmakers plan to investigate possible mistakes made by security agencies in their handling of two neo-Nazis suspected of killing a regional politician last year.

Opposition lawmakers in the central state of Hesse announced Thursday that they want to hold a parliamentary investigation into what police and domestic intelligence officials knew about the two suspects, whose trial began this week.

Stephan Ernst, a 46-year-old German man, is accused of the murder, attempted murder, serious bodily harm and firearms offenses. A second man, identified only as Markus H. because of privacy rules, is accused of accessory to murder and breaking firearms laws.

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Prosecutors say the men were behind the slaying last June of Walter Luebcke, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc who had spoken out in favor of helping refugees. Ernst is also accused of stabbing an Iraqi asylum-seeker in January 2016.

Hesse lawmakers want to know why Ernst, who had previous convictions for violent anti-migrant crimes, had dropped off the radar of security agencies, and why they didn’t intervene when Markus H., whose far-right views were also known, acquired firearms.

Frankfurt’s regional court on Thursday reviewed a police video recording of Ernst confessing to Luebcke’s killing following his arrest. He later retracted the confession.