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POLICE

500 cops raid Berlin far-left squat after attack

Around 500 police joined a raid on a squat in east Berlin on Wednesday night after four unknown attackers beat up an officer.

500 cops raid Berlin far-left squat after attack
Police enter a building on Rigaer Straße using a ladder. Photo: DPA

Rigaer Straße 94 is one of the few buildings in Berlin to remain largely under the control of squatters from the far-left scene.

But its halls and stairways were filled with uniforms on Wednesday night as police conducted a search that they said was aimed at finding dangerous items.

Police said that on Wednesday afternoon, a policeman had been writing a parking ticket outside when he was confronted by a masked man.

When he asked to see the man's ID, the officer was attacked by two other men and a woman, who knocked him to the ground and beat him.

The officer reported that the four attackers then retreated into the house.

“We don't tolerate any places where violent offenders can hole up,” a police spokesman said.

“We want to make it clear that you can't attack a policeman.”

The raid was led by officers from city SEK (SWAT) teams, some of whom entered via the roof as parts of the building were barricaded.

Tagesspiegel reported that 200 police were in and around the building, while 300 were securing the area.

But by the time of the search the four people were nowhere to be found.

As they didn't have a warrant, police were not permitted to enter any of the apartments in the building and only searched its corridors, stairwells, courtyard and roof.

Police tweeted later that they had found a large number of dangerous objects in the building.

But critics said that the police raid was a massive over-reaction.

“For four years [interior policy senator] Olaf Henkel has done nothing [about Rigaer Straße], and now for once he has had to show off the power of the state,” said Green party politician Canan Bayram.

“Imagine that something like this happened in Kollwitzplatz [in wealthy Prenzlauer Berg] and hours later the police do a 'house search',” independent city parliament member Christopher Lauer tweeted.

But police union GdP backed the move, saying that “the attempt by the far-left scene to create a lawless zone in the capital city must be resisted decisively.”

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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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