Retiree ‘set fire to homeless man’

The trial of a pensioner who allegedly set a homeless man on fire in July began Thursday in the western German town of Essen. The homeless man died from severe burns.

Retiree 'set fire to homeless man'
Photo: DPA

Sixty-nine-year-old Manfred G., had invited the homeless man into his home on July 5, 2011 to watch a football match, when the 58-year-old Berthold L. reportedly stole several watches belonging to his host.

According to a report in Bild daily, the situation then escalated into a fight, and Berthold L. was asked to leave. Manfred G. made an emergency call to the police later that night to report the robbery.

The defendant then bought one euro’s worth of petrol at 07:02 the next morning from a local petrol station.

He told the cashier, “I’m going to set a tramp on fire. He stole from me and now he will be punished.”

She alerted the police, who immediately began a search. At 7:18am they received another call to say a man was on fire in Essen’s Westpark. Bystanders tried to put out the blaze with mineral water.

The defendant had reportedly found the man inside a grit container that the homeless man was sleeping in, covered him in petrol and set him alight.

Prosecutors said the victim, who was treated in a specialist burns clinic, suffered 95 percent burns and later died from a heart attack as a result of his injuries.

“Violence towards homeless people isn’t commonplace here,” an Essen police spokesman told The Local. “These two had known each other for a long time and they would often drink or watch football together.”

“It was a personal argument,” he added.

Prosecutors say the defendant is suspected of suffering from a personality disorder, and poses a threat to the public if left untreated.

Essen police superintendant Markus Bergmann told Bild, “We arrested the man in his house but he seemed to show no signs of remorse.”

Manfred G. also reportedly told a neighbour the day before the attack, “I’m becoming more and more disappointed in other people. They don’t mean anything to me anymore.”

The court is expected to reach a verdict on January 25.

The Local/DAPD/jcw

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German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.