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CRIME

US soldiers in Germany charged with Baghdad murders

Three US soldiers from a battalion based in Germany have been charged with premeditated murder in an alleged incident in Baghdad in spring of 2007, US Army officials announced on Wednesday in Grafenwöhr.

US soldiers in Germany charged with Baghdad murders
Photo: DPA

The soldiers will be tried in Germany because they were formerly assigned to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, which is based in the country, US Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Eric Bloom told The Local.

“Right now it’s just court proceedings, but not an actual trial,” Bloom said. “If there is a verdict they may serve time in our Mannheim facility, depending on how long the sentence is.”

Charges against the three men include premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder and obstruction of justice.

The New York Times reported this August that two of the soldiers had made sworn statements saying that the group had killed four bound and blinded Iraqis execution style near a Baghdad canal.

Two of the soldiers are also being charged with premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit murder in a separate incident in January 2007.

“The judge may, or may not decide to take it to trial, but if he does they will all get the standard US trial by peers,” Bloom told The Local.

GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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