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SWITZERLAND

Bank Austria ordered to pay East German cash

Switzerland's top court on Thursday ordered Bank Austria to pay Germany €254 million following a legal battle dating back to the fall of the Berlin Wall two decades ago.

Bank Austria ordered to pay East German cash
Photo: DPA

The ruling, upholding an earlier verdict by a lower court, concerns the transfer into a Swiss bank of €128 million from the communist East Germany after the impoverished country’s demise in 1990.

This transfer by Rudolfine Steindling, a colourful Austrian communist dubbed “Fini the Red” who died last year, was conducted by a former subsidiary of Bank Austria, itself now part of Italy’s UniCredit.

In the 1990s Germany, by then reunified, complained that Steindling had no right to the money, which was amassed by East Germany charging fees from Western firms investing there, and that Bank Austria knew this.

In March 2010, a Swiss court in Zurich ruled in favour of the German state and ordered the bank to pay the €128 million plus five percent interest dating back to 1994.

Since East and West Germany were reunified in 1990, the country has launched dozens of lawsuits in various jurisdictions to try to recover money stashed by the former regime.

Bank Austria said Thursday that it has already set aside sufficient money to repay the money, except for €70 million, and that it now planned new legal proceedings against Germany.

AFP/jcw

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COURTS

Woman on trial over killing spree at Potsdam care home

The trial began on Tuesday of a woman accused of stabbing four residents to death and severely injuring another at a German care home for disabled people where she worked outside Berlin.

Tributes laid where four people were killed at a care home in Potsdam.
Tributes laid where four people were killed at a care home in Potsdam. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Soeren Stache

Named as Ines Andrea R., the 52-year-old suspect is charged with four counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder following the bloodbath at the Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus facility in Potsdam, Brandenburg, in April.

The victims, two women and two men aged between 31 and 56, were found dead in their rooms after being stabbed with a knife, with police saying they had been subjected to “intense, extreme violence”.

Ines Andrea R. is also accused of trying to kill two further residents and of seriously injuring another, a woman aged 43.

She was detained immediately after the incident and placed in urgent psychiatric care due to what prosecutors described as “pertinent evidence” of severe mental illness.

Around 100 police officers were involved in recovering evidence at the scene.

READ ALSO: Women in custody over killings at Potsdam disabled home

The Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus, run by the Lutheran Church’s social welfare service, specialises in helping those with physical and mental disabilities, including blind, deaf and severely autistic patients.

It offers live-in care as well as schools and workshops.

Around 65 people live at the residence, which employs more than 80 people.

Germany has seen a number of high-profile murder cases from care facilities.

In the most prominent trial, nurse Niels Högel was sentenced in 2019 to life in prison for murdering 85 patients in his care.

READ ALSO: Missed chances: How Germany’s killer nurse got away with 85 murders

Högel, believed to be Germany’s most prolific serial killer, murdered patients with lethal injections between 2000 and 2005, before he was eventually caught in the act.

Last year, a Polish healthcare worker was sentenced to life in prison in Munich for killing at least three people with insulin.

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