Teens jailed in Munich S-Bahn murder trial

A court on Monday handed lengthy jail sentences to two teens for the murder of businessman Dominik Brunner on a Munich commuter train platform almost one year ago.

Teens jailed in Munich S-Bahn murder trial
Leibinger (left) and Schiller (right). Photo: DPA

Nineteen-year-old Markus Schiller was sentenced to nine years and 10 months in prison for murder, while 18-year-old Sebastian Leibinger received seven years for dangerous bodily harm resulting in death.

The pair beat and kicked the 50-year-old at Munich’s Solln S-Bahn train platform on September 12, 2009 after he had tried to protect a group of younger children from their bullying.

Brunner had intervened while they were attempting to extort money out of the group of children on an S-Bahn train. Brunner offered to escort the children out of the Solln station but the teens, who had allegedly been drinking, 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.

Brunner died two hours after the altercation in a Munich hospital.

But contrary to first indications, Brunner did not succumb to injuries inflicted by the two young men. Instead experts determined that he suffered cardiac arrest due to a heart problem that had gone undiagnosed.

During the trial a witness also revealed that Brunner had thrown the first punch at the teens, apparently in an attempt to prevent being attacked.

But Markus Schiller still received the most severe sentence possible for a youth offender, because witnesses said he had kicked Brunner after he was already on the ground.

During the 12-day trial in the Munich youth court, which saw testimony from more than 50 witnesses, the defence had plead for a much more lenient sentence for the two teens, who were 17 and 18 at the time of the attack. The sentences were still short of what state prosecutors wanted, though.

Brunner’s death, following a display of what Germans call Zivilcourage, or “civil courage,” shocked the nation, and on Monday the German Police Union (DPoIG) praised the verdict as a “strong vote” for behaviour such as his.

“The verdict is hard and therefore good,” DPoIG head Rainer Wendt said in a statement. “We are happy that the court remained strict on the actual crime and the accompanying criminal energy of the perpetrators and was uninfluenced by minor side issues.”

Brunner’s heart defect did not change the value of his actions, the organisation said, adding that citizens should be expected to at least inform police when they witness criminal behaviour.

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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.