SHARE
COPY LINK

CRIME

Kurdish gathering turns violent in Mannheim

Around 80 police officers were injured and 31 people arrested in Mannheim on Saturday after an international gathering of about 40,000 Kurds erupted in violence triggered when a teenager was stopped with a banned flag.

Kurdish gathering turns violent in Mannheim
Photo: DPA

Police stopped the 14-year-old at the entrance to cultural festival on the city’s Maimarkt because he was carrying a forbidden flag, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Sunday.

After security guards unsuccessfully tried to block him from entering the festival’s grounds, they called the police for backup.

Before long around 2,500 Kurds were in an hours-long stand-off with 600 police officers, the paper reported. The police spokesperson said the “outbreak of violence was enormous,” and added that he had never experienced something like it in his 30 years on the force.

Hundreds, “if not more than a thousand” people ran at the police, some throwing stones, water bottles, bricks and fireworks, a police spokesman told the paper.

The police used pepper spray and confiscated flags and T-shirts of banned organizations, along with four knives and a set of brass knuckle dusters.

The police spokesman said those being violent and rushing the police were supported by thousands of their fellow participants, and that they had “no chance” of calming the crowd. The area eventually cleared at around 8 pm.

The news outlet Tagesschau.de reported early indications that the violence could have been influenced by targeted propaganda, such as a rumours among the Kurdish participants that on Friday night police in Mannheim had mistreated a Kurdish demonstrator.

Various smaller incidents were reported during Friday as the Kurds gathered in Mannheim. Police stopped a march on Friday by a Kurdish youth group after some involved attacked Turkish-looking passersby.

One group waved a banned PKK flag and shouted slogans in support of the group banned and regarded by the authorities as terrorists.

Reinhold Gall, interior minister of the state of Baden-Württemberg said he was shocked by the incident, and that such events would have to be checked more closely before being allowed in the future, if they are allowed at all, Tagesschau reported.

DPA/DAPD/The Local/mbw

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

CRIME

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard on Monday once again denied being complicit in war crimes during the Holocaust as his trial drew to a close in Germany.

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

Josef Schütz, the oldest person so far to face trial over Nazi crimes during World War II, is accused of involvement in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, has pleaded innocent throughout the trial, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said again at the close of the proceedings, his voice wavering.

Dressed in a grey shirt and pyjama bottoms and sitting in a wheelchair, Schütz insisted he had had nothing to do with the atrocities and was “telling the truth”.

READ ALSO: Ex-Nazi death camp secretary who fled trial to face court in Germany

Prosecutors say he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the crimes as a guard at the camp and are seeking to punish him with five years behind bars.

But Schütz’s lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, said that since there were no photographs of him wearing an SS uniform, the case was based on “hints” of his possible involvement.

“As early as 1973, investigators had information about him but did not pursue him. At the time, witnesses could have been heard but now they are all dead or no longer able to speak,” Waterkamp said.

Former Nazi guard

The 101-year-old former Nazi guard covers his face at the Neuruppin courthouse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

It would be a mistake for the court to try to “make up for the mistakes of a previous generation of judges”, the lawyer said.

Antoine Grumbach, 80, whose father died in Sachsenhausen, told AFP Schuetz “does not want to remember”, calling it “a form of defence”.

The trial was not just about “putting a centenarian in prison”, he said. It had also produced evidence that Sachsenhausen was an “experimental extermination camp”.

“All the cruellest methods were invented there and then exported,” Grumbach said.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor

SHOW COMMENTS