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CRIME

Pensioner gets life in prison for killing neighbours

A German pensioner was on Thursday sentenced to life in prison for killing three neighbours in a garden allotment after a dispute over garbage and trespassing, a court said.

The regional court in the northern city of Hildesheim found 66-year-old Wilfried Reinecke guilty of beating to death the 33-year-old son of his neighbours on their parcel of land with a wooden club last September.

The white-haired Reinecke then turned the weapon on the man’s parents, aged 59 and 64, when they tried to intervene, the court found.

The explosion of violence marked the culmination of a long-running dispute with his neighbours in the town of Gifhorn.

Witnesses told the court that Reinecke had been locked in a feud with nearly all the other tenants for eight years because of trespassing on a path, half of which belonged to the defendant.

The dispute escalated to the point that the two sides began dumping garbage on each others’ allotments.

Witnesses testified that Reinecke had one day shouted: “Someday I’m going to lose it and kill you all!”

Presiding judge Ulrich Pohl dismissed defence attorneys’ arguments that Reinecke was psychologically disturbed, saying he was like “hundreds of thousands of other older men over 60 who pick fights for no good reason.”

Pohl said Reinecke had shown “not the slightest sense of remorse” for his actions and had actively lain “in wait” for his 33-year-old victim, gravely wounding him with the club and then killing him with four blows to the back of his head.

Reinecke had told the court he acted in self-defence.

He will not be eligible for parole in 15 years as is customary under German law, a sentence that matched the demands of the prosecution and two other sons of the dead couple.

Reinecke’s lawyers said they would appeal the sentence.

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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