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POLICE

Armed ‘robber’ causes Berlin station chaos

The would-be thief failed to impress staff in two hold-ups at stalls on Monday before he was apprehended by police.

Armed 'robber' causes Berlin station chaos
Photo: DPA

The 29-year-old first tried to rob a confectionary kiosk at the entrance to the Warschauer Straße S-Bahn station in the east of the city at 2 a.m., threatening staff with a blank-firing pistol.

When a salesman bluntly refused his demands to empty the cash register, the frustrated thief fired two blank rounds in a futile bid to scare them into compliance before running away.

Passers-by ran in panic as the pistol-wielding man tried again at the next kiosk, where he fared no better. The 22-year-old salesman also refused to hand over any money and was also shot at ineffectually as the man grew steadily more irate.

He then ran into the station and tried to hide among passengers on a departing train. Plain clothes police officers arriving at the scene stormed the carriage with drawn pistols and met no resistance as they handcuffed the suspect.

No one was seriously hurt but police said the first store attendant was later treated for tinnitus, or ringing in his ears, caused by the noise of the shots.

A blank-firing incident triggered panic on an intercity train travelling from Berlin to Hamburg last month when a conductor asked a passenger for his ticket. The man was overpowered by other passengers before police boarded the train and arrested him.

SEE ALSO: Passengers stop gunman on Berlin-Hamburg train

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POLICE

German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.

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