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CRIME

Gunman who killed four was French national

The gunman who shot dead four hostages during a flat eviction and then killed himself in western Germany was French, it emerged on Thursday. Police say he had been planning the bloodbath for some time.

Gunman who killed four was French national
Photo: DPA

The 55 year-old man, who has not been named, died along with his four victims in Karlsruhe on Wednesday. He was originally from the Alsace region, a police spokesman said on Thursday. The spokesman could not confirm whether the man also had German nationality.

He had been living with his 55-year-old partner in her Karlsruhe flat just 70 kilometres from the French border. But she had fallen behind with maintenance payments and the property was sold off in April, the Tagesspiegel newspaper wrote late on Wednesday evening.

The new owner wanted to live there himself – and told the couple they would have to move out. The imminent eviction had “shaken his personal existence” to the core, one investigator told the paper.

The presence of a small arsenal of weapons and materials to restrain his captives suggests the “execution”-style murders were premeditated, police added. They found two pistols, a shotgun, a “gun with a long magazine,” a large amount of ammunition and a disabled hand grenade in his flat. The collection could have sustained a long shoot-out with officers.

Investigations are being carried out into how he got the weapons – where he got them, and whether they were legal.

Post-mortem examinations of the victims and the gunman are due to take place in Heidelberg on Friday, from which police are hoping to be able to gain a clearer picture of Wednesday’s dramatic events.

The Tagesspiegel said the bailiff, locksmith and social worker arrived at the flat at 8am to evict the couple – the furniture removal van was waiting outside. The gunman let them in, but then took them hostage, forcing the locksmith to tie the others up, wrote the paper. Later the new owner arrived and was also tied up with the others.

The locksmith made a grab for the gunman’s weapon but failed to disarm him and was fatally shot. The gunman then spent an hour drinking beer and watching the other hostages, before he freed the social worker who immediately called police.

The social worker said he heard further shots as he ran down the stairs, wrote the Tagesspiegel. Police spent three hours outside the flat as negotiators tried and failed to contact him. A smell of burning prompted them to storm the property – the gunman had set the carpet on fire after killing the remaining hostages. By the time police got inside he had also shot himself dead.

They also discovered the body of the gunman’s girlfriend on the bed, killed by a shot to the chest. It’s unclear whether she was already dead when the hostages were taken captive.

The locksmith, 33, who leaves behind two children and a heavily pregnant widow, had only stepped in at the last minute to lend a hand, a friend of his told the Bild newspaper on Thursday. The bailiff, 47, also leaves behind a family.

The French gunman had robbed a shop armed with a knife in 2003, but had not been considered violent or dangerous by authorities.

The Local/AFP/DAPD/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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