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CRIME

Berlin’s busiest square is hunting ground for criminals

For years, crooks and criminals have tormented tourists and travellers at Berlin Alexanderplatz. Police efforts to fight the scourge have so far failed.

Berlin's busiest square is hunting ground for criminals
Photo: DPA

Crime has been rife for years at Alexanderplatz, Berlin's busiest public space and home to the German capital's world-famous TV tower. And despite increased police presence, officers have been unable to get a grip on the situation.

Figures released to Berlin city representative Tom Schreiber of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) show that the number of violent offences at Alex – as it's fondly known to Berliners – remained stuck at around 600 per year between 2011 and 2015.

“Although there are more officers and they are probably working overtime, I think the staff are overwhelmed with the situation,” Schreiber told The Local.

Ever since 20-year-old Johnny K. was beaten to death by 6 men in October 2012, an extra police team has been in place to watch over the tourist, shopping and travel nexus in the former East of the city.

But the report from the city government's Interior department shows that while crime was relatively low in early 2015, there were a total of 597 acts of violence by the end of the year. 

The offences include criminal assault, armed robbery, threats and unlawful detention.

The department registered 481 cases of assault, 62 instances of coercion and threats, 51 cases of robbery and three counts of the most serious crimes: rape, murder and homicide, some of them attempted.

Cases of pick-pocketing also increased by 54% between 2014 and 2015.

“We need combined supervision at Alexanderplatz; a joint effort of the public order office [Ordnungsamt], federal police [responsible for policing transport infrastructure], and city police,” city representative Schreiber said.

“We don't want tourists to arrive in this city and then be welcomed by crime.”

The police department did not give a statement on why they haven't been able to curtail crime at the plaza when contacted by The Local.

by Max Bringmann

SEE ALSO: Germany's safest and most dangerous cities

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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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