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CRIME

20 Trier diocese priests accused of sex abuse

Trier's Roman Catholic diocese said Monday that 20 of its current and former priests had been accused "in recent weeks" of sexual abuse as part of an ever widening scandal embroiling the Church in Germany.

20 Trier diocese priests accused of sex abuse
Bishop Stephan Ackermann in 2009. Photo: DPA

The Trier bishopric in the western part of the country said the “shocking” allegations involved crimes committed from the 1950s to 1990.

“For my part, I would like to encourage those victims who have not yet found the courage to come forward to do so,” Bishop Stephan Ackermann told reporters, saying he was “stunned” by the cases that had come to light.

Ackermann said two people had already reported their cases to authorities while the Church had passed on information on an additional three to prosecutors. Ten of the accused priests have since died, another two have retired.

Ackermann said the diocese was still conferring on how to handle three cases that fell under the criminal statute of limitations. He said that beyond the new cases that had surfaced, three priests had been convicted of abuse in the 1990s.

Meanwhile the prosecutor’s office in the Hessian city of Fulda confirmed sexual abuse charges had been filed against a former priest who had worked in nearby Erfurt. It said the man had been previously charged with paedophilia but declined to provide further details.

Germany’s Catholic Church has been thrown into crisis in recent weeks as dozens of people have come forward alleging they were abused as minors by priests. Most cases date back several years.

Similar scandals have also erupted in the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland, while Ireland has been rocked by revelations about cover-up efforts by the head of the Church there in the 1970s.

The Vatican has said it received 3,000 reports between 2001 and 2010 of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy committed over the past 50 years.

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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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