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CRIME

Michelle’s murderer confesses as trial begins

The accused murderer of eight-year-old Michelle confessed to the crime and apologised to her parents as his closed trial began at a Leipzig court on Monday.

Michelle's murderer confesses as trial begins
Photo: DPA

The 19-year-old released a statement admitting to the charges of murder, assault, rape and sexual assault – though he denied that the August 18, 2008 murder was premeditated.

“First I would like to apologise to Michelle’s family, because I caused them such great pain,” the defendant said, though the girl’s family did not appear in court. They have chosen instead to send a lawyer on their behalf as joint plaintiffs. Months ago they returned an unopened letter from the accused.

According to State Prosecutor Klaus-Dieter Müller, the teenager planned the crime in advance, getting to know Michelle in his neighbourhood and following her for about a year before luring her back to his apartment last summer.

“The child knew the accused and innocently followed him into the apartment,” Müller said.

She first became suspicious and tried to flee when the accused began to handle a roll of tape. He gagged her and then force-fed her alcohol before raping and suffocating her.

Michelle was on her way home from playing with friends when she went missing, and was found dead three days later in a duck pond by a local resident out for a walk.

Despite thousands of tips, police found few clues leading to the murderer. They questioned more than 1,000 witnesses and investigated 1,700 leads, collecting some 5,200 pieces of evidence. The 75-officer special investigation team also took voluntary saliva DNA samples from friends, neighbours and relatives of the girl.

Seven months after Michelle died, the young man turned himself in to police before he was scheduled to be tested.

His lawyer Malte Heise said the 19-year-old is developmentally disabled and will likely be tried as a minor. Under this law he would serve a maximum sentence of 10 years.

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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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