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FOOTBALL

Football fans coordinate brutal bus attack

German police are investigating an extraordinary coordinated attack by a set of Cologne football fans on a bus full of Mönchengladbach fans on Sunday night. Several cars forced the coach off the motorway into a service station.

Football fans coordinate brutal bus attack
Photo: DPA

The bus was returning from Gladbach’s defeat to Nuremberg when it stopped at a service station on the A3 motorway in Rhineland-Palatinate, where some Cologne fans – returning from a draw with Hoffenheim – were also pulled up.

“When we got back on the motorway, a black Opel followed us, the driver was constantly talking on the phone,” the bus driver told Bild newspaper on Monday.

A few kilometres later, two white Mercedes vans manoeuvred in front and behind the bus, while another car drew up alongside. More cars followed. The vehicles forced the bus into another service station, near the town of Siegburg in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Cologne fans armed with baseball bats and metal bars immediately surrounded the bus in the car park.

“Around 30 or 40 people jumped out of the cars, some of them masked,” the bus-driver said. “They smashed the bus’s windows and lights.” A lot of the Gladbach fans took shelter on the floor of the bus, but none were injured.

Paving stones were also thrown at the bus, which contained 38 fans, including women, youths and the elderly, who had paid €32 each for the trip.

The driver, who wants to remain anonymous, managed to escape by driving the bus through a gap in the gang. “I just thought: you have to get out of here with these people,” he told Bild.

Police later stopped a van full of Cologne fans, but arrested no-one. A police spokesman called the incident, which resulted in an estimated €26,000 worth of damage, “a life-endangering attack.”

“We are investigating on charges of property damage, assault and breach of the peace,” he added.

Cologne football club is considering imposing stadium bans on the fans, if they are found. Mönchengladbach player Filip Daems described the hooligans as “total idiots.”

“It getting worse and worse. Where will it end?” he told Bild.

The Local/bk

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POLICE

German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.

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