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CRIME

Police under pressure over lack of progress in kidnap murder case

Police in the Maria Bögerl kidnap and murder case are increasingly under pressure for their inability to identify the kidnapper or answer questions over why they failed to find her body, and how the money handover went wrong.

Police under pressure over lack of progress in kidnap murder case
Police still looking for clues near where her body was found. Photo: DPA

As police continue to search the area in Heidenheim where her body was found and follow up on more than 1,000 potential clues from the public, questions are being asked about how the kidnap turned to murder.

The Baden-Württemberg police must work out why the area of woodland where Bögerl’s body was found on Thursday evening had not been searched using dogs, even though her mobile phone had been found only a kilometre away.

Her body was only found by accident by the dog of a passerby. It had been there for a number of days, yet the police search teams failed to find it.

She had been stabbed to death and her body was covered with brushwood.

“One will have to look at which decisions were made and why,” a police statement said.

Bögerl, whose husband Thomas is the head of the Heidenheim Sparkasse bank, was kidnapped from the family home on May 12. Later that day he received a phone call in which the kidnapper demanded €300,000 and his wife told him she feared for her life.

An attempt to deliver the money that day failed – it was delivered at the agreed spot too late, police have now admitted, and was never collected.

“The tight deadline and very detailed instructions of the kidnapper prevented the ransom money being put at the intended handover spot on time. At 7 am the following morning the money had not been collected,” the statement said.

“The money handover was not optimal,” police sources have said.

The hunt for the kidnapper has also failed to deliver much so far, with analysis of his telephone call to demand the money leading detectives to say he is middle-aged and with a typical regional Swabian accent.

Police do not have solid evidence about whether he was working alone or with others. Even the search for a man with a ponytail who is being sought as a witness has not turned up anything helpful, despite several similar-looking men having been questioned.

The kidnapping has been decried as amateur by experts, who said a more professional operation would have waited for longer before making contact – and then have demanded more money.

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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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