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CRIME

Neo-Nazi ‘could have escaped but chose to die’

Neo-Nazi terrorists Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt could have easily escaped police last year, but chose to die instead, in another in a long line of embarrassing revelations for investigating authorities.

Neo-Nazi 'could have escaped but chose to die'
Böhnhardt (left) and Mundlos. Photo: DPA

Mundlos and Böhnhardt, members of the self-styled National Socialist Underground (NSU) terrorist cell, botched a bank robbery in Eisenach in the eastern German state of Thuringia on November 4 – and fled the crime scene on bicycles, Bild newspaper reported on Sunday.

As the pair headed for their campervan parked up in another part of town, they were listening over police radio to how the search for them was being conducted.

They could have escaped police, but instead waited almost an hour before Mundlos shot dead Böhnhardt and then himself in the campervan, the paper said.

They would have heard that the police dragnet was due to be lifted after an hour and a half, and could have escaped out onto the motorway in their van, but they did not.

Instead they waited almost an hour until the police came across them by accident, said Bild.

Mundlos and Böhnhardt, together with Beate Zschäpe are thought to have killed nine people of immigrant descent and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007, as well as robbing 14 banks.

The news that the terrorists could have escaped is a further embarrassment for the authorities, who initially assumed the string of killings were connected to organised crime, only joining the dots in 2011 when the group self-destructed and the gun used in the killings was found in their flat.

Investigators reconstructing the terrorists’ last moments said it took Mundlos just 15 seconds to shoot dead Böhnhardt, set their campervan alight and commit suicide himself.

As police approached, Mundlos climbed into the back of the vehicle and started a fire before turning the gun on himself.

Zschäpe, believed to have co-founded the terrorist cell, gave herself up to police a few days later after the incident and is currently in prison awaiting trial.

DADP/The Local/jlb

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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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