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‘Ice cream parlour killer’ chopped up two men

The owner of a Viennese ice cream parlour admitted on Monday to killing her German husband and then a lover - shooting them, cutting up their bodies with a chainsaw and concreting them into the basement of her shop.

'Ice cream parlour killer' chopped up two men
Photo: DPA

The 34-year-old woman named only as Estibaliz C. pleaded guilty to the killings at the opening of her trial in a Vienna court, which was packed with spectators.

Austrian newspaper Die Presse quoted prosecutor Petra Freh as saying the defendant had “two faces.”

She described Estibaliz C. as an “ice-cold, highly dangerous woman,” calling her a “ticking time bomb”.

But defence lawyer Rudolf Mayer countered those claims, saying his client was a “deeply disturbed person who had not chosen to be disturbed.”

He also said that the first victim, the defendant’s German husband, was a “mean” man, citing comments from his previous partner, a policewoman who said she once locked herself in a room out of fear of him.

Die Presse reported that the defendant, who has dual Spanish-Mexican citizenship, met her husband in Germany. The two of them later moved to Vienna to open up an ice cream parlour.

But Estibaliz C. said her husband Holger H. changed considerably after their marriage, claiming he became both physically and verbally abusive, and did not help to resolve the pair’s financial troubles.

“Everything I fought for, he tried to sabotage,” the paper quoted her as saying. “And I was helpless.”

Estibaliz C. said her husband had agreed to leave – but in April 2008, he changed his mind and refused. The defendant claimed she shot him with a pistol, though she could not remember how many times.

She cried as she explained that she only chopped up his body with a chainsaw once it had started to decompose – and temporarily put the pieces in a freezer before taking them to the cellar and encasing them in concrete.

Estibaliz C. reportedly told the court that her father had made things tough for her growing up – adding that she always had problematic relationships with men.

Within two years of her husband’s demise, she had a new boyfriend, but was unhappy with him, describing their relationship as like “having a plastic bag over one’s head.”

When she accused him of flirting with another woman, Manfred H. reportedly started yelling and then went to bed.

“He turned toward the wall and started snoring,” Die Presse quoted her as saying. “He just turned around and considered it done. I was so angry. I had the pistol under the mattress. I took it out, reloaded it and shot.”

She also dismembered his body – and put the pieces into tubs before getting her unwitting brother who was visiting from Spain, to help her concrete them into the cellar of the ice cream salon.

Handymen stumbled upon parts of the victims’ corpses in June of 2011. Estibaliz C. fled, but was apprehended in Italy a few days later. A verdict in the case is expected later this week.

DPA/The Local/arp

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WILDFIRES

‘Unprecedented’: How explosions and fires have rocked Berlin’s Grunewald forest

An "unprecedented" fire broke out on Thursday around a German police munitions storage site in a Berlin forest. Here's how events unfolded and the reaction.

'Unprecedented': How explosions and fires have rocked Berlin's Grunewald forest

What happened?

Emergency services were called out after explosions were heard in the ‘Grunewald’ forest in western Berlin in the early hours of Thursday morning. 

It then emerged that a fire had broken out near a police munitions storage site, all on one of the hottest days of the year when temperatures were forecast to reach around 38C in the German capital. 

As explosions continued at the site, sending debris flying into the air, firefighters weren’t initially able to get near the flames to extinguish it. Emergency services set up a 1,000-metre safety zone around the area.

This aerial photo taken by the Berlin Fire Brigade shows the fire in Grunewald.

This aerial photo taken by the Berlin Fire Brigade shows the fire in Grunewald. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Berliner Feuerwehr

Later on Thursday afternoon, Berlin fire brigade spokesman Thomas Kirstein said the situation was “under control and there was no danger for Berliners” but that the fire was expected to last for some time.

No one has been hurt by the fires. Around 250 emergency workers were deployed to the site.

READ ALSO: Blasts ring out as forest fire rages in Berlin’s Grunewald

How was the fire being tackled?

The German army (Bundeswehr) was called in. They sent a tank aimed at evacuating munitions at the affected storage site as well as remote-controlled de-mining robots, while drones circled the air to assess the emergency.

Water cannons were also deployed around the safety zone to prevent the fire from spreading.

Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey interrupted her holiday to visit the scene, calling the events “unprecedented in the post-war history of Berlin”.

Giffey advised people in Berlin to close their windows but said the danger was minimal as there were no residential buildings within a two-kilometre (1.2-mile) radius and so no need to issue evacuation orders.

Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey speaks at the scene of the forest fire on Thursday

Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey speaks at the scene of the forest fire on Thursday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

“It would be much more difficult if there were residential buildings nearby,” she said.

What caused the blaze?

That’s still unclear. Police say they are investigating what started the fire exactly. 

The store in question holds munitions uncovered by police, but also unexploded World War II-era ordnance which is regularly dug up during construction works.

Giffey said local authorities would “have to think about how to deal with this munitions site in the future and whether such a place is the right one in Berlin”.

Is Grunewald a popular site?

Very much so. The sprawling forest on the edge of Berlin is home to lots of hiking trails and is even near some popular lakes, such as the Krumme Lanke. It’s also near the Wannsee and Havel river. 

Map shows where the fire broke out in Berlin's Grunewald

Map shows where the fire broke out in Berlin’s Grunewald. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa Grafik | dpa-infografik GmbH

Authorities appealed for the public to avoid the forest, which is regularly visited by both locals and tourists.

Deutsche Bahn said regional and long-distance transport was disrupted due to the blaze.

A part of the Avus motorway between Spanischer Allee and Hüttenweg was also closed in both directions, as well as Kronprinzessinnenweg and Havelchaussee, according to the Berlin traffic centre.

Aren’t forest fires and strong heat causing problems elsewhere?

Yes. Authorities on Thursday said no firefighting choppers were available as they were already in use to calm forest fires in eastern Germany.

However, they also said the 1,000-metre safety zone applied to the air, so there was a limit to how useful it would be to drop water on the fire from above.

The German capital is rarely hit by forest fires, even though its 29,000 hectares of forests make it one of the greenest cities in the world.

Brandenburg, the region surrounding Berlin, as well as parts of eastern Germany have for days been battling forest fires.

Parts of Germany were also recently hit by forest fires during heatwaves this summer. 

Temperatures were expected to climb as high as 40C across parts of Germany on Thursday. However, it is set to cool down on Friday and thunderstorms are set to sweep in from the west.

With reporting by AFP’s David COURBET

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