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CRIME

Rostock trial probing alleged blackmail of Liechtenstein bank

A bank in the tiny Alpine principality of Liechtenstein, which has been rocked since February by a major tax evasion scandal, was allegedly blackmailed into paying €9 million.

Four people are on trial at Rostock in northern Germany accused of obtaining €9 million ($13.9 million) by threatening to reveal the names of 2,300 account holders of the Liechtensteinische Landesbank (LLB), the Frankfurter Rundschau daily reported on Saturday.

On Friday the court, which has been hearing the case since April, had documents relating to some 1,850 accounts held by one of the accused placed before it.

“Sums of several millions appear in these accounts,” said Leonore Gottschalk-Solger, lawyer for the accused in question, who is believed to have presented the documents in the hope of leniency for his client.

The four defendants, who have not been named, are accused of obtaining the money in exchange for bank documents. The principality is known for its banking secrecy. The court has said that it will study the documents before passing them to the German tax authorities which will carry out its own investigations.

A major Liechtenstein tax scandal erupted in February when Germany launched a massive probe using documents allegedly stolen from the principality’s LGT bank by a former employee. Germany then shared the information with other countries, which began investigating their own citizens.

The United States, Britain, Australia, Italy, France, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, Greece and Spain have all said they are hunting for taxpayers hiding their money in Liechtenstein.

CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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