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CRIME

Police seek virtual lynch mob in murder case

Attention in the hunt for the killer of a young girl has turned to a virtual lynch mob who used social media to call for violence against a teenager who was arrested in the case but then released.

Police seek virtual lynch mob in murder case
Photo: DPA

“Those behind the calls for lynching must be made to feel the full force of the law,” said Bernhard Witthaut, chairman of the GdP police union, the Die Welt newspaper reported on Friday.

It cannot be tolerated, he added, that “some users of social networks think they can revive Wild West methods in our democratic society.”

A 17-year-old was arrested last week in the coastal town of Emden, and police let it be known he was their chief suspect.

But he was released on Friday after evidence ruled out any involvement in the murder of 11-year-old Lena whose body was found in a car park in the town centre on the evening of March 24th. She was buried in a private ceremony on Friday.

The suspect’s arrest on Tuesday prompted an outcry in the town, and a crowd of angry citizens gathered in front of the police station.

News of the arrest also quickly spread on social networks, where users unleashed an outpouring of hate and calls for violence against the young man, whose name and address are reportedly common knowledge among local residents.

Now police have opened a case against an 18-year-old Facebook user believed to be responsible for the worst of the online threats, public prosecutor Bernard Südbeck told radio station NDR on Friday.

Berlin criminal lawyer Martin Heger said public messages on Facebook should be considered “public provocations.”

“Public incitement to crime” is punishable under German law with fines and jail sentences, reported Die Welt.

Meanwhile, authorities are facing growing criticism over their handling of the case. Critics say they were too hasty in releasing a public appeal.

“Police and prosecutors have an interest in a rapid outcome to their investigation,” conservative politician Hans-Peter Uhl told the regional Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper on Saturday.

“That’s why they’re sometimes rather hasty and too often risk a public appeal too soon. We’re seeing this happen more and more often,” said Uhl, who is domestic affairs spokesman for the conservative Christian Social Union parliamentary faction.

dpa/The Local/jlb

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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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