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CRIME

Police bust child porn ring using mobile phones

Investigators in Germany have for the first time uncovered a paedophilia network distributing images via mobile phones as police this week raided more than 400 homes across the country.

Police bust child porn ring using mobile phones
Photo: DPA

Public prosecutors in Kassel, western Germany, said on Friday that police had seized thousands of telephones, computers, hard drives,USB sticks, DVDs and CDs in raids across the country.

“This is not the biggest case in German history but it has an extraordinary dimension,” the public prosecutor’s office in Kassel said in a statement. It added that it was the first time police in Germany had found mobile phones being used to distribute pornographic pictures via MMS multimedia messaging technology on such a large scale.

The search, codenamed “Operation Susi,” was launched after investigations against a 33-year-old man near Kassel found his mobile phone contained the numbers of more than 400 men and some women to whom he had sent as well as received pornographic images from.

Most of the suspects, whose ages range between 20 and 83, are said to be from the state of North-Rhine Westphalia while 76 are from Bavaria. The more than 400 raids carried out this week across Germany have still not led to any arrests.

“We still don’t know how the suspects communicated with each other and whether there is a mastermind behind the network,” said Klaus Quanz, head of the police operation near Kassel in the state of Hesse.

Prosecutors have said the investigations are proving to be extremely difficult because the courts needed to examine each search warrant individually.

Public Prosecutor Hans-Manfred Jung said most of the suspects were being investigated for the possession of child pornography, a charge which carries a prison sentence of up to two years.

“We’re now looking for indications of actual abuse. Legally, that would then put the whole affair in a totally different league,” he said.

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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