- - Sunday, September 16, 2012

BERLIN — Information that could have led to the arrest of three fugitive neo-Nazis later implicated in a string of far-right murders may have remained unused in German police files for a decade, according to a newspaper report Sunday.

The report by weekly Welt am Sonntag risks further embarrassing German authorities who for years failed to link members of the National Socialist Underground to the killing of 10 people from 2000 until 2007.

According to the newspaper, an informant in the far-right scene gave his Berlin police handler a tipoff on the trio’s whereabouts as early as 2002 — four years after they had disappeared from public view to avoid arrest over a series of attempted bombings.

Two of the suspects were found dead after an apparent murder-suicide following a botched bank robbery in November. The third, Beate Zschaepe, is in custody.

Welt am Sonntag said it was unclear whether Berlin police had passed on their tips to other parts of Germany’s federal police system.

German media previously have reported that the informant, Thomas Starke, worked for Berlin police from 2000 until 2011.

A police spokesman declined Sunday to confirm the reports but said Berlin’s state interior minister, Frank Henkel, would make a statement to the federal parliament Tuesday.

Four senior German domestic intelligence officials have resigned in recent months over the authorities’ failure to track the National Socialist Underground during its seven-year murder spree.

UNITED KINGDOM

Palace: Lawyers seek injunction over topless pics

LONDON — Lawyers for Britain’s royal family will go to court in France on Monday in a bid to stop further publication in that country of topless photos of Prince William’s wife, Kate, the prince’s office said Sunday, as the owners of an Irish newspaper criticized it for running the pictures.

St. James’s Palace said lawyers would seek an injunction in a Paris court against Italian media group Mondadori, which publishes France’s Closer and Italy’s Chi gossip magazines.

The palace also will seek damages from the publisher, which is owned by former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Last week, Closer published paparazzi snaps of Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, sunbathing during a holiday at a relative’s chateau in Provence. Chi says it will publish Monday 26 pages of the images — taken with a long lens from hundreds of yards away.

The Irish Daily Star reproduced the Closer photos on Saturday, but no British publication has run them, and Britain’s tabloids have lined up to denounce them as an invasion of the duchess’ privacy.

The palace condemned publication of the images, and said it is considering “all proportionate responses” against Chi, though no decision has been made on legal action against it or the Irish Daily Star.

The strong response stands in contrast to the reception of naked photos of Prince Harry partying in Las Vegas, which appeared online last month and were later published in Britain’s Sun tabloid.

The palace shrugged off those photos, snapped during a game of strip billiards, and took no action against those who published them.

PORTUGAL

Foreign minister urges austerity rethink

LISBON — Portugal’s foreign minister Sunday advocated a rethink of draconian austerity measures, a day after mass rallies were staged nationwide against the cuts and the country’s economic woes.

Paulo Portas’ comments follow Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s announcement of tough new moves — including an increase in worker social security contributions, combined with a cut in employer contributions — in a bid to create jobs in a country where unemployment has topped 15 percent.

Mr. Portas, a key figure in Portugal’s governing center-right coalition, told reporters the government needs to be receptive to evaluating the austerity measures.

“The government must have an open position to evaluate the situation with social partners and the country’s institutions,” he said.

Portugal’s latest austerity measures led to a barrage of criticism, which culminated Saturday with massive demonstrations in Lisbon and about 30 cities across the country that organizers said attracted more than 100,000 people.

Though Mr. Portas opposes the new measures, he said he does not want to break the coalition and plunge the country into political chaos.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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