Aachen jailbreak convicts imprisoned for life

The two men who escaped from an Aachen prison in 2009 sparking a desperate police manhunt have been sentenced to long prison terms. They will likely spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

Aachen jailbreak convicts imprisoned for life
Photo: DPA

Michael Heckhoff, 52, was sentenced to ten years in prison by a court on Wednesday, while co-conspirator Peter Paul Michalski, 47, was given a jail term of ten years and six months.

The two had been charged with kidnapping, blackmail and hostage-taking.

The court also ruled that they be kept in preventive detention after having served their sentences, which means the two will probably die in custody.

The former prison guard who helped the two escape in Nov. 2009 from the maximum-security facility near the western German city of Aachen was given a sentence of four years and three months.

Prosecutors had asked that Heckhoff be given a 12-year sentence and Michalski 13 years. They had also demanded the former prison guard receive a sentence of seven years.

Germany held its collective breath for five days during which convicted murderer Michalski and Heckhoff, who was serving time for hostage-taking, led police on nationwide manhunt, during which they took hostages and broke into a villa. No one was injured during the chase.

The men confessed their crimes in front of the Aachen court although in a final statement said that poor conditions in the Aachen facility had driven them to escape. The two said the prison was merely a place where inmates were “stored” and the outlook for the future there was bleak.

DPA/The Local/kdj

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Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

READ ALSO: The German rules of the road that are hard to get your head around

In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

READ ALSO: The German road signs that confuse foreigners