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CRIME

Deutsche Telekom hires ex-judge for internal spying probe

Deutsche Telekom said on Friday it has hired a retired judge to conduct an internal probe after a spying scandal involving journalists sparked a raid by prosecutors this week.

Gerhard Schäfer, 70, the former head of Germany’s highest court, will “examine all relevant data security aspects of the allegations and draw up a new data security plan for the group,” Deutsche Telekom said in a statement.

Deutsche Telekom was forced to concede at the weekend that it had hired an outside firm to track hundreds of thousands of phone calls by senior executives and journalists to identify the sources of press leaks.

The Bonn-based company said the “ill-advised use of communications data” happened in 2005 and probably 2006 and has to date conceded only to spying on the magazine Capital. But on Thursday the Financial Times Deutschland alleged that it was also spied on and that there was even a secret camera installed in its newsroom.

The telecoms giant insists that the Berlin consultancy firm it hired had not listened to journalists’ conversations, but only logged details on who phoned whom as well as the time and duration of the calls.

But the scandal is proving deeply damaging in a country already nervous about “Big Brother” style privacy invasion and chief executive Rene Obermann has embarked on a damage control campaign. Prosecutors raided the firm’s Bonn headquarters on Thursday.

Earlier this year it emerged that discount food retailer Lidl had hired detectives to install micro cameras that filmed employees while at work and on their breaks. Lidl recorded employees when they used the toilet, their conversations while on break and kept track of who their friends outside work were.

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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