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CRIME

Police make arrest in search for Sylt island arsonist

A 46-year-old man was arrested on the North Sea island of Sylt on Saturday, suspected of being an arsonist who has set several fires recently, police have announced.

Police make arrest in search for Sylt island arsonist
Andreas Reuß, 13, with the burned thatch. Photo: DPA

Fire fighters put out five blazes in the town of Westerland on the island on Friday night alone, including one in a container, another in a barn and a third in the entrance to a pub.

Another fire could have become much more serious when 13-year-old holidaymaker Andreas Reuß heard the garden gate of his holiday home slam shut, smelled smoke and came out to investigate, only to find a fire burning in the thatched roof.

“There were 14 people in the house – one does not even want to consider what could have happened,” said Hauke Block, head of the Sylt fire services.

A series of fires were set on Tuesday – initially ascribed to lightning strikes – with fire fighters called to seven sites within a few hours. The most serious completely burned down the main building of the Klappholttal high school.

The arson attacks have provoked uncertainty on the island, with many property owners taking additional security measures around their buildings.

A local street party in Westerland was closed earlier than planned on Saturday so that people could get home before it got dark, organisers said.

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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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