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POLICE

Convicted rapist escapes during brewery visit

A convicted rapist has escaped from his guards while on a visit to a brewery in Cologne and is on the run, police said on Wednesday.

Convicted rapist escapes during brewery visit

Peter Breidenbach, 58, managed to give the guards from his prison in Aachen the slip at around 1.30pm on Wednesday, a police statement said.

Anyone who sees Breidenbach is advised not to speak to him, but to report the sighting by calling the emergency 110 number, police said.

The convict is around 188 centimetres tall (roughly 6'2″), slim and has a moustache.

Peter Breidenbach. Photo: Polizei Köln

He was wearing black combat boots, khaki cargo trousers and an unmarked blue military sweater.

Breidenbach is also diabetic who depends on insulin.

'Human error' to blame

A spokesman for the North Rhine-Westphalia justice ministry told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger (KStA) newspaper that Breidenbach managed to escape when he was escorted to the toilet by one of the two prison guards who were accompanying him on the trip.

Instead of remaining vigilant, the guard decided to relieve himself at the same time as Breidenbach – despite the fact that neither the toilet cabins nor the door were visible from the urinals.

The rapist was able simply to slip away without the man assigned to guard him noticing.

“This should not have been allowed to happen,” the spokesman told the KstA, saying that either the man who accompanied the prisoner into the toilet should have kept an eye on him, or the second officer should have been brought in.

Why was he allowed out?

Breidenbach was convicted of rape in conjunction with serious robbery and sexual coercion and sentenced to nine years' jail in 1991 – but has been in preventive custody since the end of his full jail sentence.

The brewery trip, tacked on to some shopping in his hometown, was his ninth excursion without handcuffs.

As a convict, he could “express wishes”, the interior ministry spokesman explained, although there are clear limits to what is allowed.

It is not yet known whether Breidenbach had planned the escape in advance or was simply quick to exploit the opportunity.

“He is believed to be extremely dangerous,” the spokesman said. “Anyone who sees him should inform the police”.

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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