• Germany edition
 
Police seek virtual lynch mob in murder case
Photo: DPA

Police seek virtual lynch mob in murder case

Published: 31 Mar 2012 12:44 GMT+02:00
Updated: 31 Mar 2012 12:44 GMT+02:00

"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

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

16:15 March 31, 2012 by SockRayBlue
We have the same problem in the US. Perhaps cell telephones need to be ended and people get back to regular telephones. The collective news media seeems to offer up stories to foment problems for further "news reporting".
10:58 April 1, 2012 by wood artist
@sockray

The interesting part of your comparison is that in Germany the "suspect" was arrested, and then cleared. In the US, the most recent killer is known but they simply won't arrest him. The social media system has forced enough information into the public eye that there's certainly valid questions about his "guilt." No arrest and no trial ultimately means no Justice. In Germany justice is at least trying, and it now sounds like they've found the "right person."

I agree that the first arrest prompted way too much response, and those actions need to be handled, but at least the German justice system is making the effort.

wa
12:25 April 2, 2012 by Prufrock2010
¦quot;Public incitement to crime" is punishable under German law with fines and jail sentences, reported Die Welt.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon one's point of view, the same is not true in the US, where hate speech is constitutionally protected.

Wood Artist is correct that the case of George Zimmerman, the undisputed killer of black teenager Trayvon Martin, has been driven by social media. As a result, millions of people are aware of the case and are demanding that the shooter be arrested and stand trial. Without the enormous publicity generated by social media the police would have swept the killing under the rug, the killer would have remained unknown to the public and Trayvon Martin would be just another quickly forgotten statistic. While that case has generated a lot of heated and violent rhetoric on both ends of the political spectrum, most observers simply want to see due process satisfied before making a determination as to the killer's legal guilt or innocence. The power of social media cannot be underestimated. It also, as in the Emden case, has great potential for abuse.
Today's headlines
UN climate talks shuffle to a close in Bonn
Photo: DPA

UN climate talks shuffle to a close in Bonn

Concern was high at a perceived lack of urgency as UN climate negotiations shuffled towards a close in Bonn on Saturday with just 14 months left to finalise a new, global pact. READ  

Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling
Italy's National Partisans' Association welcomed the court decision. Photo: DPA

Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling

Italy's constitutional court has ruled that victims of Nazi-era war crimes can sue Germany in Italian courts, rejecting a UN ruling and provoking a strong reaction from Berlin on Friday. READ  

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall
Photo: Paul Sullivan

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall

Two expats who walked the Mauerweg - the 160-kilometre trail that runs the length of the former Berlin Wall - have written a book about forgotten aspects of its past and present. READ  

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat
Photo: DPA

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat

Germany's biggest department store chain Karstadt will close at least six stores, putting around 2,000 jobs at risk, in a drastic bid by its new boss to return it to profit. READ  

Quiz
How well do you know Germany?
Photos: DPA/Shutterstock

How well do you know Germany?

Do you know your Saxony facts from your Saxony-Anhalt ones? Test your knowledge of Germany's federal states in The Local's quiz. READ  

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal
Pollution from a coal-fired power station in Frimmersdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal

The UN's climate chief hailed a European agreement in Bonn on greenhouse gases on Friday as providing "valuable momentum" for a world pact to be inked in Paris next year. READ  

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth
Photo: DPA

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth

Germany will get an early Christmas present of around €779 million from the EU, thanks to weaker than expected GDP growth. READ  

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told
Photo: DPA

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told

It will take several days to find out what caused a massive explosion on Thursday which rocked a town on the Rhine, killing a builder and injuring 26 others. READ  

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'
An NH90 helicopter. Photo: DPA

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'

Germany's fleet of NH90 helicopters is undergoing engineering checks after one of them suffered a serious engine failure, in the latest blow to the country's military capabilities. READ  

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m
Rainer Schwarz at a court hearing in September into the case. Photo: DPA

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m

The man who was blamed for Berlin's miserable attempt to build a new airport must be paid more than €1 million - after being fired. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,522
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd