Gunmen rob World Heritage Site vicar

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23 Jul, 2012 Updated Mon 23 Jul 2012 11:55 CEST
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Three armed men robbed the vicar of a UNESCO listed church on Saturday night - waking him up at home and forcing him to hand over valuables. Around one million tourists visit the Wies Church in Bavaria every year.

The 73-year-old Georg Kirchmeir woke up with two gun barrels pointing at his face. "It was awful as I realized that it was all real," he told Bild newspaper.

Two masked men were standing over his bed, with a third man waiting outside. "Where's the safe? Where's the card? Where's the wallet?" one of the men asked him, in an eastern European accent, the vicar said.

"I shouted for help," he said. "Then they started threatening me, shouted 'quiet,' 'shut up.' " The trio of men then chained the man and a 51-year-old church employee to a radiator.

They also gagged the old man. "That was life-threatening," said Kirchmeir. "I have a heart condition, and I couldn't breathe well, and I was very scared that I would die."

Frightened, the vicar gave the robber his PIN number. They drove to the nearest cash machine and withdrew money from his account. One of them was filmed by CCTV cameras here, and has been described as 1.80 metres tall, wearing a hooded top.

The criminals then returned to the vicarage, checked whether the pair were securely bound before disappearing. The vicar only managed to escape hours later, with the help of the housekeeper, and call for help. Police have launched an investigation.

The Wies Church in the Steingaden municipality of Bavaria is a magnificent Rococo church and pilgrimage site completed in 1754. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.

The Local/bk



2012/07/23 11:55

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