Two Germans kidnapped in Niger Delta released unharmed

Two Germans kidnapped in Nigeria nearly a week ago have been freed, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle announced on Saturday.

Two Germans kidnapped in Niger Delta released unharmed
File picture of rebels from the MEND group in the Niger Delta. Photo: DPA

The men, aged 45 and 55, were abducted in Abia state in the oil-rich southern Niger Delta on Sunday, after going swimming in the Imo River.

They have been freed and are safe and sound, the minister said in a statement.

“They are well considering the circumstances,” he said.

A Nigerian security source said earlier this week that one of the men worked in Port Harcourt, the oil city capital of neighbouring Rivers State, while the other came from Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos.

According to police, the two foreigners had come to the river to swim in company of three young Nigerian women and a driver. The kidnappers seized the Germans after they got out of the water, while the women and the driver escaped.

Nigerian officials could not immediately confirm they had been released but Westerwelle said the men were in a secure location in Port Harcourt.

He thanked German and Nigerian authorities for their “tireless intervention” which he said had resulted in a swift end to the ordeal of the abducted men.

No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and there has been no mention of whether the abductors received a ransom.

Hundreds of foreigners and locals, mostly oil workers, have been kidnapped since 2006 in Nigeria, most of them in the Niger Delta, where international oil companies operate, but where local people see little if any of the benefit.

A group calling itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has declared war on the oil industry in the region, and is thought to be behind some of the kidnappings.

Many of the people seized have been released unharmed, but in some cases only after payment of a ransom.

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Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

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In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

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