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CRIME

Police make arrest in search for Sylt island arsonist

A 46-year-old man was arrested on the North Sea island of Sylt on Saturday, suspected of being an arsonist who has set several fires recently, police have announced.

Police make arrest in search for Sylt island arsonist
Andreas Reuß, 13, with the burned thatch. Photo: DPA

Fire fighters put out five blazes in the town of Westerland on the island on Friday night alone, including one in a container, another in a barn and a third in the entrance to a pub.

Another fire could have become much more serious when 13-year-old holidaymaker Andreas Reuß heard the garden gate of his holiday home slam shut, smelled smoke and came out to investigate, only to find a fire burning in the thatched roof.

“There were 14 people in the house – one does not even want to consider what could have happened,” said Hauke Block, head of the Sylt fire services.

A series of fires were set on Tuesday – initially ascribed to lightning strikes – with fire fighters called to seven sites within a few hours. The most serious completely burned down the main building of the Klappholttal high school.

The arson attacks have provoked uncertainty on the island, with many property owners taking additional security measures around their buildings.

A local street party in Westerland was closed earlier than planned on Saturday so that people could get home before it got dark, organisers said.

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CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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