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CRIME

Witness says S-Bahn murder victim hit first

A witness at the trial of the two youths who beat to death Dominik Brunner at a Munich S-Bahn station said on Thursday the victim threw the first punch, potentially making it difficult for prosecutors to pursue a murder conviction.

Witness says S-Bahn murder victim hit first
Photo: DPA

A 16-year-old boy that was part of a group of children Brunner had tried to protect from bullying by defendants Sebastian Leibinger and Markus Schiller testified that the 50-year-old businessman had squared up to them and said: “This is the only thing you want.”

He then allegedly hit one of the defendants in the face.

“Mr. Brunner took a few steps towards them and hit one of them in the face,” said the boy under tears. “He then totally flipped out. His stance, his moves, it was like a boxer.”

Schiller, now 19, and Leibinger, now 18, allegedly beat Brunner to death in September last year after he intervened while they were attempting to extort money out of the children on an S-Bahn commuter train.

Brunner offered to escort the children out of Solln station but the accused pair followed him off the train. After the altercation began, the defendants continued to punch and kick Brunner even after he had struck his head on a metal handrail and fallen to the ground.

If convicted of murder, Schiller faces life imprisonment. Because he was a minor at the time, Leibinger faces a maximum of 10 years in jail. However, the boy’s testimony on Thursday corroborates the defendants’ story and could make a murder conviction more difficult for prosecutors.

A third youth, Christoph T., who did not take part in the beating but egged his friends on, was sentenced in April to 19 months’ jail.

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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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