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CRIME

Cologne puts metro flooding plan on hold

Plans to flood a Cologne city centre metro tunnel in an attempt to prevent it collapsing after investigations revealed serious errors in its construction have been put on hold.

Cologne puts metro flooding plan on hold
Photo: DPA

Preparations had been hastily made to flood the tunnel with 14.5 million litres of ground water in order to shore up underground walls which had been poorly built.

This was deemed the only way to ensure the central Heumarkt station site did not collapse by providing counter pressure against the walls which would likely be strained by rising groundwater levels due to spring runoff.

But the plans were shelved on Saturday afternoon after it emerged that ground water levels were not rising as quickly as expected.

“We can delay the flooding without reducing the safety concept which remains complete,”

city official Guido Kahlen said.

The city has been gripped by the drama playing out among its foundations, which started a year ago with the deadly collapse of the historic archive building, after which it was revealed that corners had been cut in metro tunnel construction. In some areas more than 80 percent of the stabilising metal anchors have been found to be missing in tunnel walls.

Falsified records concerning the construction work have been uncovered, with some suggestion that organised crime could have been involved.

Although the flooding action has been called off, the fire brigade remains ready to implement the plans should it become necessary.

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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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