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CRIME

Homemade bomb found in teen school attacker’s room

Investigators have found a homemade bomb in the room of a 16-year-old girl who planned to torch her school and attacked another student with a knife near Bonn, the website of magazine Focus reported on Tuesday.

Homemade bomb found in teen school attacker’s room
Photo: DPA

The magazine said investigators had found the bomb during a search of the girl’s mother’s apartment.

“It was filled with explosive materials and completely functional,” Bonn public prosecutors told Focus, saying the girl had probably got the bomb-making instructions on the internet.

The girl, who police identified as Tanja Otto, was found late Monday night after spending several hours on the run. She remains in police custody and will face public prosecutors in Bonn on Tuesday, a police spokesperson said. Authorities did not reveal whether the troubled student had been captured by police or if she turned herself in, saying they had continued their investigation throughout the night.

Click here for a photo gallery of the incident.

A spokesman for the Bonn public prosecutor said the girl was considered to be at risk of committing suicide and authorities were debating moving her to a youth psychiatric clinic.

On Tuesday, school director Anne Marie Wähner described Otto as “actually a really good student.” But two of Otto’s classmates last week told school authorities that the 16-year-old was plagued by problems. They said Otto had often spoken about suicide with her friends.

Another 17-year-old female student was able to stop the arson attack when she happened upon Otto in the girls’ bathroom at Albert Einstein high school in Sankt Augustin, some 10 kilometres from Bonn, around 9 am on Monday. Otto then slashed the other girl with a knife and severed her thumb.

The alleged attacker reportedly had several knives, a tear gas pistol, 10 Molotov cocktails, a flame thrower and five kilogrammes of gunpowder, local media reported, adding that her rucksack also contained a suicide letter to police.

Screams alerted teachers to the incident and they called the police to tell them the school was under attack. The injured girl was transported to a Bonn hospital for emergency surgery.

Authorities evacuated some 800 students from the school to a neighbouring athletics building.

Just last week, Otto reportedly threatened to attack the school, for which she was scheduled to meet with a school psychologist on Monday.

Barbara Sommer, North-Rhine Westphalia’s minister for schools, said she was concerned that the suspect was a girl, saying girls had “simply not been part of this problem so far.”

Germany is particularly sensitive to school violence after 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer killed 15 people at his former school with his father’s gun in the southwestern German town of Winnenden in March. He later killed himself during a shootout with police.

The massacre stirred up debate about stronger whether the country needs stronger gun laws or a ban on violent video games.

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CRIME

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

A German court on Tuesday handed a five-year jail sentence to a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, the oldest person so far to go on trial for complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust.

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

Josef S. was found guilty of being an accessory to murder while working as a prison guard at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945, presiding judge Udo Lechtermann said.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, had pleaded innocent, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said at the close of his trial on Monday.

But prosecutors said he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the camp and called for him to be punished with five years behind bars.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor

More than 200,000 people, including Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gay people, were detained at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1936 and 1945.

Tens of thousands of inmates died from forced labour, murder, medical experiments, hunger or disease before the camp was liberated by Soviet troops, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.

Prosecutors said the man had aided and abetted the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942” and the murder of prisoners “using the poisonous gas Zyklon B”.

He was 21 years old at the time.

Contradictory statements

During the trial, S. made several inconsistent statements about his past, complaining that his head was getting “mixed up”.

At one point, the centenarian said he had worked as an agricultural labourer in Germany for most of World War II, a claim contradicted by several historical documents bearing his name, date and place of birth.

After the war, the man was transferred to a prison camp in Russia before returning to Germany, where he worked as a farmer and a locksmith.

He remained at liberty during the trial, which began in 2021 but has been delayed several times because of his health.

Despite his conviction, he is highly unlikely to be put behind bars, given his age.

His lawyer Stefan Waterkamp told AFP ahead of the verdict that if found guilty, he would appeal.

More than seven decades after World War II, German prosecutors are racing to bring the last surviving Nazi perpetrators to justice.

The 2011 conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk, on the basis that he served as part of Hitler’s killing machine, set a legal precedent and paved the way for several of these twilight justice cases.

Since then, courts have handed down several guilty verdicts on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.

By David COURBET

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