Leftist extremists claim rail arson attacks

Train services between Berlin and Hamburg were severely disrupted on Monday after a sabotage attack on rail lines claimed by leftist extremists. Federal police also said they had foiled an arson attack on the German capital’s main train station.

Leftist extremists claim rail arson attacks

Reporting the incident at the central station, used by thousands of people each day, the daily Der Tagesspiegel said that an attack had been thwarted at the last minute when a member of staff found several suspect objects. Investigation showed them to be incendiary agents.

“The objects were suspiciously like those which were found by the attack on the Berlin-Hamburg train track,” said a spokeswoman for the police. The train station was not evacuated, but the discovered objects were taken for investigation.

An arson attack on cables crucial to the rail link from Berlin to Hamburg early on Monday morning caused what was described as massive damage along the stretch between Brieseland and Finkenkrug stations.

Signalling was totally knocked out said a police spokesman, making it impossible for the high-speed ICE train services to run there, according to Der Tagesspiegel.

Passengers had to expect at least an hour’s delay as trains were diverted along a longer route where they could not reach top speeds. The repairs were expected to last all day, while police also conducted a search for evidence and started their investigation.

Leftist extremists claimed responsibility for the train track attack in a long email sent to a range of media outlets. The group calls itself the Hekla reception committee, taking the name of an Icelandic volcano and saying they are in favour of more social eruptions.

They spoke of attacks which forced Berlin to slow down – to protest ten years of war in Afghanistan, while also calling for American soldier Bradley Manning, jailed for leaking US military information, to be released.

A similar arson attack on a regional train track switching box knocked out train and phone services for large parts of Berlin at the end of May and was later claimed by a leftist group also calling itself after an Icelandic volcano – Eyjafjallajökull, which caused global transport problems when its ash cloud crippled air traffic last year.

The Local/hc

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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