Germany Probes Far-Right Incidents in Military Guard Unit

German honour guards during the ceremony for Croatia's President
In this Sept. 11, 2020 photo , German honour guards keep in distance during the welcoming ceremony for Croatia's President Zoran Milanovic at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN — A company of the German military's honor guard battalion has been suspended from official duty amid an investigation of initiation rituals, suspected sexual abuse and far-right incidents, the German Defense Ministry said Friday.

The company has been suspended from official events “until further notice" while the allegations are being investigated, ministry spokesman Arne Collatz told reporters in Berlin. He stressed that the ministry is pursuing a “no-tolerance” policy.

The guard battalion, which has nearly 1,000 members, provides military honors during state visits and other formal events. Collatz said the internal investigation covers “several dozen” soldiers and the alleged incidents came to light as a result of reports by fellow battalion members.

The ministry spokesman didn't give details of the alleged incidents. His comments came after news magazine Der Spiegel reported that a witness had said a far-right group of at least six soldiers had formed within the company.

German officials have said they are determined to root out right-wing extremism in the military. Last year, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer disbanded a company of the KSK special forces unit, saying an extreme-right culture had been allowed to develop behind a “wall of secrecy.”

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