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Organised crime may have caused Cologne archive collapse

Suspicion that organised crime may have been behind the deadly collapse of Cologne’s city archive grew on Monday as more falsified building protocols emerged.

Organised crime may have caused Cologne archive collapse
Photo: DPA

An additional 28 falsified records for underground metro construction at various sites across the city have been discovered, an investigation insider told daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

“We assume that it could be significantly more,” the source said. “For us it looks like systematic falsification.”

Over the weekend the paper reported fresh claims that shoddy work practices caused the collapse of the archive building, including a report that construction firms were skimping on concrete.

Click here for a photo gallery of the incident.

Cologne city authorities were forced to repeat assurances there was no danger of further collapses as tens of thousands of Karneval revellers gather in the city this weekend.

City director Guido Kahlen said the big days of celebration on Sunday and Monday could “without doubt” go ahead.

But the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger cited experts who did not rule out that the underground excavations could become unstable if the Rhine River level rose to more than four metres because of heavy snowmelt.

The paper reported that too little concrete may have been used on the tunnel under the Waidmarkt area – a possible reason for collapse of the tunnel that led to the destruction of the city’s historical archive in March 2009 and two neighbouring buildings, killing two people and destroying countless historical documents.

North Rhine-Westphalia Building and Transport Minister Lutz Lienenkämper talked of “highly criminal actions” and demanded immediate explanations.

On Thursday examinations had shown that at the site of the Heumarkt U-Bahn only 17 percent of the plates meant for the supporting wall had been used. These plates were needed to stabilise the structure, the paper reported.

According to the paper, assessors from the state prosecutor’s office believe a leak into the fitted plate 11, directly beneath the archives building, flowed from groundwater in an excavation pit.

The breach could have arisen because the 3.4 metre wide shovel for digging the plate to a depth of 30 metres was damaged on an obstruction, meaning a 2.8 metre wide digging tool was substituted.

The report said a further 22 plates were installed based on incorrect surveying procedures.

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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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