BERLIN - German officials, spurred by lingering questions about the handling of a Tunisian migrant who killed 12 people last month at a Berlin Christmas market, said Wednesday that it would review the cases of nearly 550 asylum seekers who have been deemed security risks.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told lawmakers the country's Joint Terrorism Task Force would look carefully at the 547 people identified as security risks to determine whether they needed to be deported or taken into custody.
Burkhard Lischka, domestic policy spokesman for the Social Democrats in parliament, said authorities had lost track of three of those people, and he drew parallels to the case of the failed Tunisian asylum seeker, Anis Amri.
Amri had been identified as a threat last February, but investigators decided it was unlikely he would carry out an attack, according to German media reports.
"They are playing with fire, and every wrong calculation can be deadly," Lischka said after a meeting of the internal affairs committee.
Amri, 24, drove a truck through the Berlin market on December 19. Islamic State officials claimed responsibility for the attack, calling Amri "a soldier" of the militant group.
De Maiziere and Justice Minister Heiko Maas, representing the two blocs in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition, agreed this month on tougher measures for asylum seekers whose documents are not in order or who are deemed security threats.
De Maiziere, a Christian Democrat, on Wednesday cited heightened security threats and urged lawmakers to quickly approve the new measures, which will make it easier to take people into custody for deportation.
He said it was imperative to set up uniform guidelines for state authorities and the national government for handling those deemed potentially dangerous. He also said it was unacceptable that Islamist militants were moving around Germany freely.
Dietmar Bartsch, head of the Left party group in parliament, questioned why authorities had decided to stop observing Amri in September and had halted investigations into fraud, drug use and other legal issues. He questioned whether authorities had sought to use Amri as a potential source.