Organised crime suspicions spread to Düsseldorf U-Bahn

As details continue to emerge about suspected organised crime connections that led to shoddy metro construction practices and the deadly collapse of Cologne’s city archive, building experts have discovered similar problems in nearby Düsseldorf.

Organised crime suspicions spread to Düsseldorf U-Bahn
Photo: DPA

City building department head Gregor Bonin told journalists late on Tuesday experts had found falsified protocols and metal anchors that had not been installed properly at six different underground metro construction sites on the U-Bahn Wehrhahn line.

“There is criminal energy at play here,” Bonin said, adding that the city has filed charges against two people in the case.

After the March 2009 collapse of Cologne’s city archive, which killed two people and destroyed countless precious documents, officials there launched an investigation into metro construction practices that may have led to the accident. They have since uncovered systematic falsification of building protocols and evidence that construction companies were skimping on concrete and other materials.

Bonin said there were clear indications that similar incidents in Düsseldorf were perpetrated by the same people as in Cologne – employees of a company called Bilfinger Berger – and those under suspicion have been suspended from their duties.

Because no safety danger has been detected in relation to these practices, construction of the U-Bahn line will continue as planned, he said.

Meanwhile Düsseldorf Mayor Dirk Elbers said in a statement that he would insure “open and transparent” investigation into the situation.

“The Wehrhahn line will be absolutely secure,” he said.

Cities that may have worked with Bilfinger Berger on U-Bahn construction in the last 40 years have been asked to file reports.

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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.