Baltic island Usedom terrorised by arson spree

Another northern German island has become the target of arsonists. After this summer’s series of fires on the North Sea island of Sylt, police said Monday they are investigating similar fires set on Usedom in the Baltic Sea.

Baltic island Usedom terrorised by arson spree
Photo: DPA

Following seven fires on the island’s southern peninsula of Lieper Winkel, police in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have begun undercover operations to nab the culprit, police spokeswoman Denise Lemke said.

The most recent fire, set some two weeks ago, marked a new escalation in the arson spree, prompting police to intensify their investigation, she added.

Officers have no solid leads on suspects, but have refused to reveal more details despite growing concerns among residents.

“We understand the fears and worries of residents concerned about their homes,” Lemke said. “We are doing something, even when the investigations can’t be made apparent to the public.”

The string of fires on Usedom actually began before those on Sylt this summer. In August Sylt police arrested a 46-year-old suspect after fire fighters put out a series of blazes over the course of a week.

The first fire on Usedom was in June, though. It started with hay bales and scrap wood, but the perpetrator has grown bolder, moving on to animal stalls and a family home, police said.

According to their estimate, the perpetrator has probably observed his targets extensively before lighting the fires, because each time property owners were not home, police said.

Meanwhile residents of the picturesque holiday destination region remain anxious.

Head of the southern Usedom regional administration office and tourism board member Karl-Heinz Schröder called the situation “uncomfortable.”

“We’re hoping for a quick explanation,” he said.


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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.