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CRIME

Father denies Yemen murder victims were converting Muslims

The father of a German woman murdered in Yemen this week said on Friday the devoted Christians did not run afoul of Islamists looking for converts.

Father denies Yemen murder victims were converting Muslims
Photo: DPA

Speaking to the regional newspaper Westfalen-Blatt, he said his daughter Rita S. and her cousin Anita G. were not in the Arab land on a mission to proselytise.

“The knew that they could only help there. They didn’t spread the word of God,” he told the paper.

The two women and were found dead with a woman from South Korea on Monday. They belonged to a group of nine foreigners abducted last week in Yemen.

The father said the two victims, who had been students at a bible school in Lemgo in North Rhine-Westphalia for the past three years, traveled to Yemen on their own initiative for an internship abroad.

“None of us blame the bible school for anything,” said the father, adding that many had tried to dissuade them from going. “But they wanted to help the suffering people there.”

The still missing foreigners include a German couple and their three children and a British engineer. All lived in Saada province and worked for the Dutch aid organisation Worldwide Services at a local hospital.

Kidnappings of foreigners in Yemen are fairly common by Arab tribes in the region to put pressure on the government or demand ransom. But in the past they have often been released quickly following negotiations with the authorities.

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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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