Warring bikers decide to play nice

As authorities increase pressure on German biker gangs amid an escalating turf war, the two main groups - the Hells Angels and the Bandidos - have forged a truce, a media report said on Tuesday.

Warring bikers decide to play nice
Photo: DPA

Negotiators for both gangs reached a deal on Monday in a prominent Hannover lawyer’s office, and will publicly seal the agreement with a handshake and a press conference on Wednesday, according to news magazine Der Spiegel.

The pact comes just a few weeks after Schleswig-Holstein became the most recent state to outlaw specific chapters of the groups, calling them a threat to constitutional order.

Further bans are up for discussion at a conference of state interior ministers planned for Thursday and Friday in Hamburg, where The Hells Angels were banned in 1986, but have continue to operate under different names.

The new peace agreement applies to all gang members, and violations will be handled internally, Der Spiegel reported.

The violent conflict between the rival groups has made nationwide headlines in recent months. German authorities cracked on both gangs with a series of raids, confiscating illegal weapons, drugs, counterfeit money, stolen motorcycle parts and other contraband. There were also shootings, including the murder of a police officer on March 17, 2010.

According to Der Spiegel, the groups are tired of the attention.

“We have no desire to be portrayed as criminals any longer,” a Bandidos member identified as Mischa told the magazine. “It must end.”

An unnamed criminologist who specialises in biker gang activity told the magazine that the peace deal is an attempt at creating a new image for the groups.

“The bikers seem to have recognised that the continued conflict threatened them and offered ever fewer opportunities to earn money,” he said.

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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.