Two men escape from prison using a blanket

Justice chiefs have blamed a series of unlikely accidents after two men escaped from a Berlin prison on Monday morning by scaling the fence with a blanket.

Two men escape from prison using a blanket
The blanket the prisoners used to pass the barbed wire fence was found by staff on Monday morning. Photo: DPA

Of the two escapees from Moabit prison, one is believed to be a man convicted of fraud, the other is thought to be one of two suspects in the robbing and murder of nightclub owner Joachim S., the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper reported.

A 33-year-old named as Metin M. and a 29-year-old, Marek F., were arrested last March for the killing of Joachim S., in which the 59-year-old victim was found with multiple stab wounds to the upper body, neck and head.

At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Berlin's Justice Senator Thomas Heilmann said the escape was a result of a series of unlikely accidents.

After managing to cut through their "old" bars, the inmates "athletically avoided obstacles we thought were impassable", Heilmann told reporters.

The escape effort was also helped by building work in the prison taking some electronic warning systems offline – and when the alarm was raised, authorities took it as a false alarm, Heilmann explained.

"If just one of these random faults had not come up, the escape attempt would never have been successful," he said.

He added the authorities were investigating if the faults at the prison were really random, or whether the escapees had had help, and said there would be a full independent inquiry into the escape.

Police are searching for the escapees, with officers deployed at all the capital's main railway stations and both airports.

Heilmann declined to give further details on the police search, saying authorities did not want to help the escapees.

Lisa Jani, spokesman for the city's justice administration, confirmed to The Local on Monday lunchtime the manhunt was very much underway.

Police are also collecting evidence at the scene of the escape. The two appear to have used a blanket to cushion the fence's barbed wire, allowing them to climb over.

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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.

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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