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CRIME

Yemenis demand $2 mln for German hostages

Yemeni hostage-takers holding a family of five Germans and a Briton since June are demanding a ransom of $2 million for their release, news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday.

Yemenis demand $2 mln for German hostages
Photo: DPA

The report on the magazine’s website came a day after Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Kurbi said the hostages had been located in Saada in northern Yemen and that his government had begun talks to secure their freedom.

The five Germans, including three children, and the Briton were abducted together with two German Bible students and a South Korean, all women, who were shot dead soon afterwards.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who visited Yemen this week, thanked President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Yemeni authorities for doing “everything in their power” to return the hostages home safely.

Der Spiegel said that a Huthi rebel was acting as a go-between, and that the hostage-takers were also demanding immunity, free passage and a guarantee that they will not be handed over to neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Sanaa has repeatedly pointed the finger of blame at Huthi rebels for the kidnappings, a charge they deny saying the government was behind the abduction as an excuse to attack the rebels and their stronghold in Saada.

The Huthis, who have since November also been in conflict with the Saudi military across the border, denied holding the hostages on Wednesday.

“To carry out kidnappings is not our way, it’s not our style, and the accusations against us are unfounded,” Mohammad Abdelsalam, a spokesman for the rebellion, told AFP by telephone.

“Our relations with Germany have been historically good,” he said, pointing out that a leading figure in the Huthi movement, Yahia al-Huthi, lived in exile in Germany.

He said the Yemeni authorities were “responsible for the fate of the hostages and any other person to be found on Yemeni soil.”

More than 200 foreign citizens have been kidnapped in the past 15 years in Yemen. The vast majority have been freed unharmed.

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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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