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Politicians bicker over police attacker penalties

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Politicians bicker over police attacker penalties
Photo: DPA
08:42 CEST+02:00
With riots expected at the annual May Day festivities in Berlin and elsewhere, Germany's centre-right coalition government bickered on Monday over whether harsher punishments should be enacted against those who attack police officers.

Head of the parliamentary interior committee and member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) Wolfgang Bosbach called for maximum sentences for violence against police to be raised from two to five years.

In an interview with daily Die Welt, the politician accused Justice Minister and member of junior coalition party the Free Democrats (FDP) Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger of trivialising the problem. The minister's plans to change punishments against such offenders don't go far enough, he said.

“The proposal shows how problematic the minister finds better protection for police,” he told the paper, adding that it would be unacceptable for such behaviour to continue being punished as a petty offence because there is currently no minimum sentence.

“Those who partially or completely damage a police vehicle are threatened with five years in prison according to current law. Those who injure a police officer are only threatened with two years. That is absolutely incomprehensible,” Bosbach said.

Meanwhile Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger rejected the criticism, which has also been echoed by Interior Minister and CDU member Thomas de Maizière.

“Hectic sentence increases” do not increase security, she told news magazine Der Spiegel.

May 1st, also known as May Day, is the traditional day of protest for leftists and has traditionally led to violent clashes between protesters and police, particularly in the Berlin districts of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain.

The police union warned recently that in the face of security gaps and overstretched police, the mounting threat of radical political violence could explode on this day and possibly lead to deaths and hundreds of injuries.

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