Accidental corpse thieves get jail time

A court in Poland on Monday sentenced three men to up to four years in jail after they stole a van from outside of Berlin. What they didn't know, was that the vehicle contained 12 corpses on their way for cremation.

Accidental corpse thieves get jail time
Photo: DPA

The trio, aged between 25 and 27, took the van from a car park in Hoppegarten on October 15th 2012 and now face between two and four years in prison and a fine of €4,000 each Der Spiegel reported.

The punishment fits only the crime of car theft as, the judge in Poznan, Poland, said, they did not know about the unusual cargo.

The corpses, all of which were German, had been loaded into a Mercedes Sprinter van and were on their way for cremation. They were discovered a week later strewn around a forest near Poznan – all were in their coffins and all were intact.

The driver had gone to wash his hands before driving from Berlin to a crematorium in Meissen, Saxony but when he came back to the van, it was gone. From the outside, it was not clear that the van was transporting bodies.

Polish police spokeswoman Hanna Wachowiak said in October it did not seem as if the thieves had any idea what was in the van when they took it. This was backed up by the Polish court.

The incident brought up the issue of the cost of cremation in Germany – the theft made it public that people were sending the corpses of loved ones miles away where the service is cheaper.

The Local/jcw

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Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

READ ALSO: The German rules of the road that are hard to get your head around

In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

READ ALSO: The German road signs that confuse foreigners