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CRIME

Gila Monsters stolen from Cologne zoo

Lizard-loving thieves broke into the Cologne zoo over the weekend to steal four highly poisonous Gila Monsters. Police are calling for help to find the endangered animals.

Gila Monsters stolen from Cologne zoo
Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Zoo employees discovered the black and orange speckled lizards – indigenous to Sonora Desert on the US-Mexican border – were missing early on Sunday morning.

“Someone specifically broke a window near the cashier booth to enter the terrarium nearby,” zoo director Theo Pagel told Cologne-based daily Express. “They knew what they were doing and apparently knew exactly what they were stealing.”

According to Pagel, the poisonous little beasts could fetch several thousand euros each on the black market. Police in Cologne are asking for anyone with information concerning the theft to contact them.

The zoo has since reopened the building where the break-in occurred, but the reptile house will remain closed until they are sure the thieves swiped all of the Gila Monsters from the terrarium.

“We don’t know if the robbers took all of the animals or if one of them got away and is hiding,” the head of the zoo section Thomas Ziegler said.

Gila Monsters – one of two types of poisonous lizards on the planet – can be deadly to humans, but they normally only bite when they feel threatened. Instead of injecting venom through fangs like snakes, the chubby lizards grab hold of their victims with a ferocious snap and ooze poison into the wound from their lower jaw.

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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