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CRIME

Hamburg police search for car arsonists after fiery weekend

Hamburg police on Tuesday were searching for suspected left-wing arsonists who destroyed 10 parked vehicles early in the morning, as part of a continuing car-burning spree in the northern German port city.

Hamburg police search for car arsonists after fiery weekend
Burned cars in Hamburg on Tuesday morning. Photo: DPA

The fires in the Flottbek district spurred a search for the arsonists that included more than 20 patrol cars, but officers reported no trace of the perpetrators so far.

On the previous night unknown culprits lit six other vehicles on fire in the city’s Harvestehude district. There fire fighters were able to save a nearby apartment building and a carport from the flames.

In the last year, about 150 cars have been burned in Hamburg, many attributed to left-wing extremists and anarchists.

In late March daily Bild reported that the number of politically motivated offences in Germany had soared to its highest level since record began.

Citing an Interior Ministry report, the paper said there were 33,917 politically motivated crimes committed in 2009. Many of these include car burnings in Hamburg and Berlin.

Although offences committed by right-wing extremists are twice as common as those committed by the left, it is a massive jump in left-wing crime that is responsible for the new peak.

The number of left-wing extremist crimes climbed 39.4 percent to 9,375. Among those were 1,822 violent offences – a rise of 53.4 percent.

Crimes by the far right, meanwhile, fell by 4.7 percent compared with 2008, totalling 19,468. Assault is a particularly common far-right crime, the report said.

Towards the end of last year, there was a spate of far-left attacks, including incidents in which perpetrators threw Molotov cocktails, paint bombs and cobblestones at Berlin’s Treptow district Federal Criminal Police (BKA) office. Around the same time, offices for the centre-left Social Democrats and the conservative Christian Democrats were also vandalised with anti-war graffiti.

And in Hamburg, about 10 masked perpetrators attacked a police precinct in the Schanzenviertel neighbourhood, setting a police cruiser alight, damaging other police cars and breaking windows with stones.

At the time, the head of the German Police Union, Rainer Wendt, branded the attacks a “declaration of war.”

Meanwhile the car burnings have spawned copycat crimes. According to a Hamburg police spokesperson, on Monday night an eight-year-old in Osdorf district managed to light two cars on fire using paper.

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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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