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CRIME

Germans trace Hezbollah coke smuggling profits

German investigators are uncovering the drug-smuggling business of the Syrian-backed Lebanese militant organisation Hezbollah, moving cocaine from Beirut into Europe via Frankfurt airport.

Germans trace Hezbollah coke smuggling profits
Funding Hezbollah? Photo: DPA

A report in Der Spiegel magazine this weekend said initial suspicions that Hezbollah was raising funds by smuggling cocaine were raised in May 2008 when around €8.7 million in cash was found in the luggage of four Lebanese men at Frankfurt airport.

A further €500,000 was found in the flat of one of the suspects, in the Rhineland Pfalz town of Speyer.

Two Lebanese men were arrested in October 2009 when customs officers and federal criminal police agents raided a house in Speyer.

The magazine says the suspicion is that family members have been regularly moving millions of euros raised in the European cocaine trade, via Frankfurt to Beirut. Those receiving the money in Lebanon are said to be members of a family with contacts with the highest levels of Hezbollah command including leader Hassan Nasrallah.

A close relation of the suspects has rejected all the allegations, the magazine reported.

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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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