‘Trash baron’ jailed for more than four years

A former police officer turned businessman has been jailed for more than four years for ditching thousands of tonnes of dangerous garbage in dumps that he was being paid to decommission.

'Trash baron' jailed for more than four years
Photo: DPA

The man, dubbed the “trash baron,” by local media, was originally contracted to re-cultivate several old landfills in Brandenburg state by filling them with stones, gravel and other organic material.

But looking for a quick buck, the man, named only as Bernd R., began inviting businesses to send him their dirtiest garbage – plastics, textiles and even medical waste, which he dumped at the sites.

Prosecutors said he took 3,420 truckloads of the trash to the dumping sites – more than 100,000 tons of garbage in all causing €73 million in environmental damage. Between 2005 and 2007 he made €4.3 million from the scheme, they charged.

Employees described Bernd R. as a strict boss who closely monitored their work and knew exactly what he was doing.

Those who questioned his business practices were threatened with the sack or defamation lawsuits.

He also tricked or bribed government officials to prevent them from reporting what he was doing. Bernd R. even created an elaborate system of fake documents to throw investigators off his trail, prosecutors said.

Bernd R. asked for leniency because he had made a confession and because local authorities had failed to monitor what he was doing at the landfills, according to the Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten newspaper.

But though the judge, Frank Tiemann, agreed that officials may have overlooked what was happening, he sent Bernd R. to prison for four years and three months.

The Local/DAPD/mdm

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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.