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TRAGEDY IN WINNENDEN

CRIME

Köhler attacks virtual violence at massacre memorial service

Speaking at the memorial church service in Winnenden, German President Horst Köhler spoke out against ultra-violent computer games and films, calling for the political world and society in general to reject them.

Köhler attacks virtual violence at massacre memorial service
Photo: DPA

“Does a normal human understanding not tell us that a continual consumption of such products causes damage?” he asked during his speech. “This kind of market development should be stopped.”

Köhler sat in the Catholic St. Borromäus church in the Baden-Württemberg town where ten days ago Tim Kretschmer began the massacre in which he shot dead 15 people, including nine children at his former school, before killing himself.

Detectives working on the case have said that the evening before the massacre Kretschmer played the violent shooter game “Far Cry” on his computer for at least two hours. His father had kept more than a dozen guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition in the house. Kretschmer took a pistol and around 200 rounds from his home when he went on his killing spree.

“All of Germany mourns with you,” Köhler told the assembled locals. He was joined by Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the entire Baden-Württemberg state government.

While white candles with the names of those killed were carried to the front of the church, Köhler also mentioned the death of Kretschmer himself. “A young person has killed 15 others, and then himself,” he said. “He plunged families into sorrow and desperation – his own too. They too have lost a child. For them too a world has collapsed.”

Winnenden town centre was mostly closed down for the service, and the thousands of people who gathered to take part in, or watch, the church memorial.

Initial expectations that up to 100,000 people would show up were quickly revised, and in the end the police said around 7,500 people came to pay their respects Some gathered in the seven other nearby communities where the victims had lived.

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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