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CRIME

Gunman kills Hamelin politician then himself

A 74-year-old gunman killed a top official in the northern German town of Hamelin on Friday before shooting himself dead, police said.

Gunman kills Hamelin politician then himself
Gunman's victim Rüdiger Butte. Photo: DPA

“The perpetrator killed district administrator Rüdiger Butte and then killed himself,” a police spokesman said. Officers were still at the scene on Friday afternoon, collecting evidence to support an investigation.

Shots were heard shortly after 10am in the city’s main administrative building, where 63-year-old Butte was later found dead along with the body of his assailant.

The police chief of neighbouring Göttingen, Robert Kruse, later told a news conference that a dispute between the elderly assailant and local authorities over a gun licence had preceded Friday’s shooting.

The local man, whom Kruse described as a “gun fanatic”, had been stripped of his permit in 1988 and in 2009 was charged with illegal possession of a firearm.

He was also known to police for other crimes including grievous bodily harm.

Investigators believe the gunman, who was not identified, tried to reach Butte repeatedly on the telephone before the shooting. It was not immediately clear whether the two knew each other personally.

Butte was married with two adult children and five grandchildren, according to his profile on the district website. By Friday afternoon, his personal website had been taken off line.

Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister Boris Pistorius said in a statement that Butte’s murder had left him stunned. “He will be missed by everyone. My thoughts go to his wife and children.”

He served as a police officer, rising through the ranks to become the head of the State Crime Investigations Office of Lower Saxony from 2001 to 2005. He had served as district administrator of Hamelin-Pyrmont, an elected office, since 2005.

The district press officer, Sandra Lummitsch, fought back tears as she described the scene.

“I heard shots. The door opened and my colleague said ‘Something terrible has happened’,” she said.

“No one can believe that this took place here.”

She said she and her co-workers locked themselves in a room after a supervisor sent an email to all staff with a warning to stay where they were.

The town is best known for the folk tale of the Pied Piper, later popularised by the Brothers Grimm.

Gun violence is rare in Germany, although major massacres in Erfurt in 2002 and Winnenden in 2009 made headlines around the world.

Yet gun crime dropped considerably over the past decade – in 2000, police registered 19,400 crimes in which involved a firearm. By 2011, this figure stood at 11,700.

Of the 2011 statistics, 5,600 were shootings and 132 were incidents in which a gun was involved in a murder, manslaughter or assisted suicide investigation.

AFP/DPA/The Local/jcw

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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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