‘Phone box kidnapper’ sent to mental hospital

A man who turned his Hamburg flat into a prison, complete with a sound-proofed telephone box and more than a tonne of food, and then kidnapped a woman to keep her there and have babies with, has been sent to a mental institution.

'Phone box kidnapper' sent to mental hospital
Photo: DPA

The 30-year-old man suffered from a severe psychiatric disorder and could not be held responsible for his actions, the Hamburg district court ruled on Wednesday. He was not convicted of a crime, but will be admitted to a psychiatric institution.

The man, identified only as Thomas F. not only led an isolated life, he never had a relationship with a woman – and gradually believed himself to be abnormal and became obsessed with the desire to have a family.

He tried to make contact with young women several times, and even stalked the actress Eva Habermann, camping in her garden in 2003 and writing her letters.

His problems came to a head last August when he kidnapped an Israeli woman at gunpoint and locked her in his flat. He told the 26-year-old he was in love with her and would not let her return to Israel.

He had barricaded the windows of his flat with pieces of wood and rolls of barbed wire. Inside he had hoarded around 1.6 tonnes of food and toiletries.

He had fertility drugs and medical equipment, which it is thought he wanted to use in his bid to get the woman pregnant.

She managed to escape by jumping out of the window.

He told the court he would not appeal the sentence and apologised to his victims.

DAPD/The Local/hc

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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.