A convicted drug dealer who was killed in a car bombing in central Berlin may have been the target of a revenge act by a crime gang, a German prosecutor said Wednesday.
Police have started questioning witnesses associated with the man, who was driving in Berlin's western Charlottenburg district early Tuesday when a bomb exploded, causing the car to overturn and ram into a parked vehicle.
A leading member of a German police union said Wednesday that the group behind the attack could be the Russian mafia - which runs its Eastern European business out of Berlin - or one of the city's notorious biker gangs.
Norbert Cioma of the police union GdP told Berlin public radio RBB that the crime may also be a result of rivalry between these groups - whose businesses intersect in Berlin - and that it was intended to "send a signal."
Investigators say the 43-year-old man killed in the bombing was known to them for suspected involvement in forgery and illegal gambling. He has also been convicted of drug offences in Poland.
Berlin prosecutor Martin Steltner said that there was still a possibility the man was not the intended target of the bomb attack, considering he was not the owner of the car.
A search of his apartment Wednesday did not result in findings "that would substantially move the investigation forward," Steltner said.
Speaking to public broadcaster ZDF, Andre Schulz - the head of the Federation of German Detectives - said that the man was killed by a crime gang for having collaborated with police.
He added that German authorities have failed to crack down on organized crime networks because of a chronic shortage of funds and personnel.