German prosecutors have called into question claims by the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) that a high-ranking politician was the victim of a politically motivated attack.
Frank Magnitz was assaulted Monday night after leaving an art gallery in Bremen, the northern German city where he is the local head of the AfD. No arrests have been made, and Magnitz left the hospital Wednesday.
The AfD released a gruesome image of the 66-year-old in the hospital that showed a deep gash in his forehead, claiming it was the result of him being knocked unconscious with a wooden board and then kicked while on the ground.
Writing on Twitter, Jörg Meuthen, the AfD’s federal chair, called the attack an “assassination attempt,” while the party’s national coleader, Alice Weidel, put out a statement that said Magnitz was the victim of a “cowardly and brutal assassination attempt.”
But Bremen prosecutors said Wednesday that CCTV footage did not show any evidence that the assailants had used a weapon, nor that the attack continued after Magnitz was unconscious.
Frank Passade, spokesperson for the Bremen prosecutor’s office, told BuzzFeed News that the footage was “very clear” and that the wound on Magnitz’s head likely occurred because his hands were in his pockets when he was attacked from behind, so he could not break his fall.
Passade said the police had received no evidence that Magnitz’s attackers were politically motivated. Police had said in the aftermath of the attack they believed the assault was due to Magnitz’s political affiliations.
Speaking to Berliner Morgenpost on Tuesday, Magnitz said he believed the attack was an “assassination attempt,” and suggested a group named after an asylum-seeker who died in police custody was responsible. But he also said that, “although it is not very likely, it may also have been a robbery.”
The local AfD office did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News, but the Bremen vice chair, Thomas Jürgewitz, told Berliner Morgenpost that with “current knowledge, we would formulate the communication [of the attack] a little differently, but it corresponded to the state of knowledge shortly after the fact.”
Jürgewitz said that the witness who initially claimed a 2x4 piece of wood was used in the attack has since vanished. He also said the widespread condemnation of the attack from across the political spectrum was “very encouraging.”