Karlsruhe robbers thought to be evasive “Gentlemen” duo

Police said Friday evening that two bank robbers killed during a shoot-out with cops in Karlsruhe were likely the "Gentlemen Robbers," who have stolen some €2 million and evaded police custody for the past 15 years.

Karlsruhe robbers thought to be evasive
Photo: DPA

Investigators must wait for the results of DNA testing to confirm whether the Czech married couple involved in Friday’s robbery match that profile.

The alarm at the bank in central Karlsruhe was sounded around 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon. After leaving the building, the robbers were intercepted by police about 30 meters from the bank. The pair immediately opened fire.

Police shot and killed one of the robbers, a 40-year-old man. The injuries sustained by his female accomplice, 38, indicated a probable suicide.

“The bullet likely penetrated through the mouth,” an investigator said.

A 28-year old female police officer was injured in the shoot-out, but police said her condition was not life-threatening. No bystanders were hurt.

Head of police Roland Lay said the duo, who were armed with pistols and wearing wigs, glasses and caps, were likely surprised to see that customers were still in the bank when they arrived.

The pair had been staying at a nearby hotel, and both robbers were carrying identification at the time of the botched hold-up.

The “Gentlemen Robbers” got their nickname after the pair apologised during one of their earlier robberies. They also reportedly returned the car keys of a getaway vehicle to their rightful owner.

But police said the tag was a misnomer and “in no way” justified. “The perpetrators never left any doubt that they would use their weapons,” the spokesman said.

Investigators believe the Friday hold-up was the 21st by the “Gentlemen Robbers,” who according to the federal criminal police (BKA) wanted list had committed 20 robberies at banks in the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg.

Their last known operation took place on July 13 at another bank in Karlsruhe.


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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.