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Accused paedophile guru Shanti faces trial from glass box

A Bavarian spiritual guru known as Oliver Shanti went on trial in Munich on Wednesday for 314 charges of sexual assault against children.

Accused paedophile guru Shanti faces trial from glass box
Photo: DPA

The accused was shut off from the rest of the court in a glass box because of an antibiotic-resistant staph infection. The illness is highly contagious and could cause a life-threatening reaction in other people.

The singer, born Ulrich Schultz in Hamburg, is also suffering from Lymphoma.

Shanti has denied the charges brought against him, which allegedly occurred between 1985 and 1998 when he was the leader of a spiritual commune near Munich. He is said to have systematically abused the children of his followers.

“I’ve never abused children, I hold children very dearly,” the 60-year-old said.

Shanti’s lawyer says the parents of the children, then between the ages of 10 and 11-years-old, were behind the case to exact financial revenge on Shanti.

“Our client is innocent,” he said before proceedings.

The lawyer claimed the parents are seeking their share of their former guru’s record sales after they lived in the commune, which was set up as a new age music production studio. In 2002, Shanti reportedly made €10 million from his music.

Authorities arrested Shanti in Portugal in 2008 on an arrest warrant from 2002.

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OKTOBERFEST

IN PICTURES: First weekend of Munich’s Oktoberfest sees around 700,000 visitors

Around 700,000 people braved the wet and cold weather to attend the first weekend of the Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, according to estimates by festival management.

IN PICTURES: First weekend of Munich's Oktoberfest sees around 700,000 visitors

That is significantly less than the around one million visitors seen in 2019, the last time the festival took place as the 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

“We want the weather gods to remember what decent Wies’n [Oktoberfest] weather looks like,” festival head and CSU politician Clemens Baumgärtner said, German news agency DPA reported.

Man and woman in lederhosen at Oktoberfest

A man and a woman in traditional Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses arrive for the opening of the Oktoberfest beer festival at the Theresienwiese in Munich on September 17, 2022.  (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

The festival opened on Saturday and the first guests were already queuing outside the entrances before sunrise to secure their spot at the front of a beer tent when the site was opened. The first tents closed their doors around noon.

Oktoberfest costume parade

Participants of the traditional costume parade of the Oktoberfest beer festival arrive on September 18, 2022.  (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

But the Schottenhamel tent (the oldest at the Oktoberfest) spokesperson, Christian Schottenhamel, said the numbers of people visiting the tents this year were similar to that seen in 2019, DPA said.

Oktoberfest costume parade

Participants dressed as fools perform during the festival’s traditional costume parade on September 18, 2022. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

He reported that the atmosphere was euphoric, with people just happy to be celebrating Oktoberfest again.

Oktoberfest beer tent visitors

The first visitors arrive and reserve places in a beer tent during the opening of the festival on September 17, 2022. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

The festival has attracted a mixed audience so far, including families with children and visitors from abroad, such as from the United States and France.

But the spokesperson for the smaller tents, Otto Lindinger, said the audience was getting younger, noting strong demand for meat-free dishes, although the Oktoberfest chicken was said to still be a hit.

Visitors celebrate at Oktoberfest

Visitors jostle for a Maß in a beer tent at the Oktoberfest on September 17, 2022. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

Over on the south side of the festival area, head of the museum tent Yvonne Heckl described the atmosphere in the traditional ‘Oide Wies’n’, or old Oktoberfest, area as “chilled and calm”.

The festival lasts until October 3rd, as German Unity Day falls on the Monday after the last Oktoberfest Sunday.

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