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CRIME

Driver leads cops on madcap autobahn chase

A "disturbed" 50-year-old German with no driving licence was restrained by police with pepper spray after leading them on a bizarre night-time motorway chase, officials said Wednesday.

The man first attracted attention by unloading plants and bags from his vehicle – with the car stereo at full volume – outside a psychiatric clinic at 4:30 am in the southwestern city of Offenburg, police said.

When the nightwatchman called the police, the chase began.

As he sped off he ran over a policewoman’s foot before whizzing off at “breakneck speed” towards the autobahn, where he headed north at speeds of up to 200 kilometres (125 miles) an hour with several police cars in hot pursuit.

In the end a traffic jam near Darmstadt, south of Frankfurt, was the man’s undoing, forcing him to slow down his Volkswagen Golf in the early hours of Wednesday. Six police cars then surrounded the vehicle, smashed the windscreen and restrained him with pepper spray.

Police said he had not been drinking alcohol but was “obviously a highly psychologically disturbed man” and had been returned to the Offenburg clinic.

CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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