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CRIME

Bayern blackmailer gets stiff jail term

UPDATE: A man who admitted to trying to blackmail jailed football legend Uli Hoeneß, former boss of Bayern Munich, for hundreds of thousands of euros was sentenced to three years nine months in prison on Tuesday.

Bayern blackmailer gets stiff jail term
The attempted blackmailer in court on Monday. Photo: DPA

"There's no doubt about the culpability of the defendant", presiding judge Oliver Ottmann said during sentencing.

But Ottmann didn't hand down the maximum penalty requested by prosecutors, saying that the man had shown "understanding of his crime and remorse".

The 51-year-old defendant confessed to having sent Hoeneß, currently serving a jail term for tax fraud, a letter warning that his time in prison would be "no picnic" unless he paid up, a court spokeswoman said.

"The defendant made a full confession," the spokeswoman for the regional court in Munich said on the opening day of the court case.

Signed Mister X, the blackmail note demanding €215,000 was posted to Hoeneß' private address in May before he went to prison and immediately handed to the police by Hoeneß' wife.

The defendant had previously served prison sentences himself and claimed in the letter he had "real influence" over how Hoeneß' time in jail could go.

"The defendant indicated as a motive for the act his own financial need," the spokeswoman said.

He also felt that Hoeneß had come away more lightly in his sentence than he himself had earlier done.

Prosecutors had asked for up to five years in prison before the verdict.

Hoeneß, 62, who spent four decades at Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich and also has a successful sausage business, began a three-and-a-half year jail term in June for having cheated the state out of €28.5 million.

At his four-day trial several months earlier, he admitted hiding his wealth in secret Swiss bank accounts while obsessively "gambling" on stock and currency markets.

Hoeneß and his wife will not be called as witnesses in the blackmail trial due to the defendant having confessed, the spokeswoman said.

In a statement read by his lawyer, the accused said he was a diabetes patient who could no longer afford health insurance after being 340,000 euros in debt. 

"I found myself at that time in a completely hopeless situation."

When he heard about Hoeneß sentence for millions of euros of tax evasion seemed "monstrous" compared with his own sentence. "The idea came to me spontaneously, touched off by my completely desolate situation."

SEE ALSO: Ex-Bayern president Hoeneß slims down in jail

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CRIME

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

A 21-year-old gunman opened fire at a secondary school in northern Germany on Thursday, badly injuring a female member of staff before being arrested, police said.

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

The incident happened at the Lloyd Gymnasium school in the centre of Bremerhaven, a city on Germany’s North Sea coast, on Thursday morning. 

“The armed person has been arrested and is in police custody,” police said in a statement. The injured woman was not a pupil, police said.

They said the suspect had entered the school building and fired at a female member of staff, who was “seriously injured”.

The alarm was quickly raised and police said they detained the suspect at a nearby location soon after and had seized his weapon at the scene.

The injured woman is being treated in hospital.

A video circulating on social media and German news sites appeared to capture the moment the gunman was arrested.

A man dressed in black is seen lying face down on a street corner, with a weapon next to him, before being handcuffed by officers.

But there was no immediate confirmation of reports the alleged weapon was a crossbow.

Bremerhaven police tweeted in the morning that a large deployment was under way in the city centre and asked residents to avoid the Mayor-Martin-Donandt square and surrounding streets, in the vicinity of the Lloyd secondary school.

Local news site Nord24 said a school pupil had heard shots being fired and called the police. Pupils barricaded themselves in their classrooms.

Police launched a large-scale operation and cordoned off the area around the school while they carried out inquiries. 

By mid-afternoon, police said special forces had completed their search and the last people had left the building.

Authorities set up a phone hotline for concerned parents. Many parents had gathered in front of the school after being alerted by their children.

Pupils and staff are receiving psychological counselling.

Local media said only around 200 people were on the school grounds, fewer than normal because of exam times.

In a separate incident on Thursday, police in the eastern city of Leipzig said they had detained a 21-year-old student still at secondary school after being tipped off by Snapchat that he had posted pictures of himself with a gun and made unspecified threats.

The US social media platform alerted German authorities, prompting Leipzig police to take action.

 A police spokesman said that the 21-year-old did not pose a real threat, however, and only possessed an airsoft gun, a replica firearm that uses non-lethal, usually plastic, pellets.

‘Strict gun laws’

School shootings are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. But a recent spate has rattled the population.

Last week, investigators in Germany’s city of Essen said they foiled a school bomb assault, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a “Nazi terror attack”.

Police in Essen stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

In January, an 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany, killing a young woman and
injuring three others before fleeing the scene and turning the weapon on himself.

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passers-by in a school shooting at Winnenden, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The gunman then killed himself.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, shot dead 16 people including 12 teachers and two students at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He too then killed himself.

The Winnenden and Erfurt massacres were carried out with legal weapons and spurred Germany to tighten gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone under 25 to pass a psychiatric exam before applying for a gun licence.

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