• 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
North braces for storms and floods
Cars waiting to be loaded onto the ferry at Bremerhaven, Lower Saxony, were caught in flooding on Wendnesday. Photo: DPA

North braces for storms and floods

UPDATE: The remnants of hurricane Gonzalo have drifted across the Atlantic and are now threatening North German cities with flooding, forecasters warned on Wednesday. The news followed a night of accidents caused by heavy winds in southern Germany. READ  

Kerry's challenge to Russia at Berlin Wall
US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Berlin Wall. Photo: DPA

Kerry's challenge to Russia at Berlin Wall

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited remnants of the Berlin Wall on Wednesday and warned that East-West tensions again threaten freedom in Europe, 25 years after its collapse. READ  

Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Sonneborn in the EU Parliament. Photo: DPA

Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train

Martin Sonneborn can’t believe his luck. The German comedian, leader of the political party “Die Partei”, managed to get elected to the European Parliament in May, and has found himself overwhelmed with fresh material. READ  

The Local List
Which high school cliche is your city?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock

Which high school cliche is your city?

This week's Local List takes a leap of imagination and finds German cities fit perfectly into high school cliche categories. Who's the class clown? Who's the nerd? READ  

Indian schools drop German teaching
Indian pupils enrolled in German classes prepare for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit to their school. Photo: DPA

Indian schools drop German teaching

Thousands of children in India will no longer be taught German after the country's education ministry allowed a contract to lapse. READ  

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt
A passenger plane landing at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt

Three teenage girls from Colorado were arrested by German police at Frankfurt airport after running away from home, reportedly on their way to join Isis in Syria. READ  

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine
Tuesday night's rescue operation Photo: DPA

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine

Six people, including a family and two American tourists, were left dangling 40 metres in the air over the Rhine for hours late on Tuesday after Cologne's cable car came to a halt. READ  

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome
Arjen Robben celebrates the first goal against AS Roma. Photo: DPA

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome

Bayern Munich were elated on Tuesday night after securing a 7-1 victory against Roma in their group stage Champions League clash. READ  

Nazi U-boat wreck found off US coast
A preserved World War II U-Boat on the beach near Kiel, Germany. Photo: DPA

Nazi U-boat wreck found off US coast

A World War II German U-boat and an American merchant vessel it sank in battle have been found deep in the ocean off the coast of North Carolina, officials said on Tuesday. READ  

Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?
Coming soon? Photo: DPA

Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?

Berlin's bid to set up a free city-wide wireless network has so far come to nothing. But city bosses are now trying for a fourth time - and hope to have the project running next year. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
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
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
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

3,491
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd