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CRIME

Hells Angel jailed over police shooting

A member of the Hells Angels biker gang was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Koblenz court Monday for killing a police officer.

Hells Angel jailed over police shooting
Photo: DPA

The district court in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate declared the 44-year-old from Anhausen guilty of manslaughter, coercion, and attempted extortion.

On March 17, 2010 the man fired two shots through the closed door of his home, hitting a 42-year-old police officer, who was killed.

The member of the special police force had been trying to open the door to conduct a search with another colleague as part of a larger investigation of the Westerwald region’s red light milieu.

The coercion and attempted extortion charges against the defendant came in connection with this investigation.

During the trial the defendant admitted to shooting through the door, but maintained he did not know a police officer was on the other side. Instead he believed he was being threatened by member of rival biker gang the Bandidos, he said.

This claim prompted state prosecutors to downgrade their original charge of murder to manslaughter, bringing the maximum sentence down to nine years from 12.

The defence plead for the biker to be pardoned because he acted in self-defence and was the result of a “chain of unhappy circumstances.”

DAPD/ka

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WEATHER

Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

A stranded cargo ship caused traffic to be halted Wednesday at the Rhine river in western Germany after suffering a technical fault, authorities said, at a time when water transport was already ailing from a drought.

Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

The vessel is stuck at St. Goar and Oberwesel, in between the cities of Mainz and Koblenz, water police said, adding that they were expecting to clear the stricken ship within the day.

The machine damage came as water levels in the Rhine had dropped to critical points at several locations, including at nearby Kaub — a known bottleneck for shipping where the river runs narrow and shallow.

The gauge at Kaub stood at 34 cm (13 inches) on Wednesday, well below the 40-cm reference point.

While vessels are still able to navigate at low water levels, they are forced to reduce their loads to avoid the risk of running aground.

About four percent of freight is transported on waterways in Germany, including on the Rhine, which originates in Switzerland and runs through several countries including France and Germany before flowing into the sea in the Netherlands.

READ ALSO: How the Rhine’s low water levels are impacting Germany

Transport on the Rhine has gained significance in recent months because among cargo moved on the river is coal, now all the more necessary as Germany seeks to wean itself off Russian gas.

Germany’s biggest companies have already warned that major disruptions to river traffic could deal another blow to an economy already beset by logistical difficulties.

The 2018 drought, which saw the benchmark depth of the Rhine in Kaub drop to 25 cm in October, shrank German GDP by 0.2 percent that year, according to Deutsche Bank Research.

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