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CRIME

Police catch Charlie Hebdo arson suspects

Hamburg police temporarily detained nine suspects on Wednesday over a January arson attack on a newspaper that had reprinted cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed from French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

Police catch Charlie Hebdo arson suspects
A fire engine outside the offices of the Hamburger Morgenpost following the attack. Photo: DPA

Officers searched 12 apartments in dawn raids, detained the suspects aged 16 to 21, and took them to a police station to record their personal details before releasing them, police in the port city said.

The group of local-area youths and adolescents, who were of German, Nigerian, Cameroonian and Turkish origin, were also suspected of having vandalised a nearby high school a day before the arson attack, police and prosecutors said in a joint statement.

The attack on the regional tabloid Hamburger Morgenpost, which caused property damage but no injuries, came just days after jihadist gunmen in Paris killed 12 people in the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

The perpetrators in Hamburg threw a manhole cover, several rocks and two incendiary devices into the building, causing damage to its archives.

The daily, known locally as the MOPO, had splashed the Charlie Hebdo cartoons on its front page with the headline "This much freedom must be possible!".

Prosecutors have refused to speculate on a motive for the newspaper attack, saying that with the aid of evidence collected in the raids, "we will now have to clarify this".

CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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