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CRIME

Man ignites own flat to see neighbours burn

A 51-year-old Bonn man has gone on trial for starting a fire in his apartment that he hoped would kill his neighbours, Cologne daily Express reported on Tuesday.

Man ignites own flat to see neighbours burn
Photo: DPA

The “fire devil,” as the paper called him, faces murder and arson charges because he was willing to burn down his own flat in April – just to see his neighbours die in the flames.

The man, who is reportedly an alcoholic, was drunk when he lit paper and twigs in his apartment, then left the building with his television and remote control to watch the inferno, the paper reported.

“Huge black smoke clouds were coming out of the house door,” the man’s social worker told the court on Monday, adding that he had been on his way to check on him that day. “He sat on the television grinning and laughing. He said the building should burn and the neighbours should die along with it.”

The man, born in Austria, had apparently been involved in a feud with the neighbours, a married couple, for years, Express reported. “He often rampages when he’s drunk,” the woman neighbour told the court. “He’s already smashed in car windows.”

But the alleged arsonist refuted her claims, telling the court the couple had been responsible for his arrest 18 times.

The man’s arch enemies were not in the apartment when the man lit the fire and the fire department was able to quell the flames before the fire caused extensive damage to the building.

The man denied the charges before the county court, saying that he’d set fire wood to dry out in front of his wood-burning stove, and that it had accidentally caught fire.

But judge Udo Buhren said the man’s story is unlikely. “An unburned cigarette box was in the stove,” he told the paper.

The Reichshof court spokeswoman told The Local she was unable to comment on the case because court proceedings are ongoing, but laughed at the suggestion that the case was “absurd.”

CRIME

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

READ ALSO: The German rules of the road that are hard to get your head around

In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

READ ALSO: The German road signs that confuse foreigners

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