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Dresden police chief steps down over phone sweep scandal

Dresden’s police chief has been forced out of his job after it emerged that police collected a massive amount of data from mobile phones during February anti-fascist demonstrations that left more than 100 officers injured.

Dresden police chief steps down over phone sweep scandal
Photo: DPA

Dieter Hanitsch and other police officials had defended the gathering of data on February 19 as necessary for the maintenance of law and order. But some politicians and privacy advocates complained that citizens’ right to privacy had been violated and debated the legality of the operation.

Anti-fascist groups launched the protests – which included staging sit-ins and blocking roads – in order to disrupt planned neo-Nazi marches through Dresden.

But violence broke out after some of the protesters tried to get past police and into the area where neo-Nazis were preparing to march. About 112 police officers and an unknown number of protesters were injured in the clashes.

Officials later admitted that they had set up facilities on the edge of the protests to capture mobile phone data that could later be used to target law breakers. But data from the phones of journalists, peaceful protesters and bystanders was also swept up.

State legislative authorities have since been investigating what happened and whether it was legal.

Hanitsch is being given a new position at state of Saxony’s police headquarters. The official reason for his removal as Dresden chief was “deficits of information.”

The Local/DAPD/mdm

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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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