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CRIME

Violent and sexual crimes rose, break-ins fell in 2016: media reports

German media reported this week that government figures to be released on Monday will show increases in violent and sexual crimes, as well as that the the number of break-ins dropped for the first time in a decade.

Violent and sexual crimes rose, break-ins fell in 2016: media reports
Photo: DPA.

Spiegel reported that the number of house break-ins in 2016 sunk by about 10 percent in 2016 compared to 2015 – the first time the number of reported break-ins had dropped in a decade.

Meanwhile Bild reported on Friday that the number of violent crimes in 2016 had risen by 6.7 percent, including under this category homicide and rape. Around 80 percent of violent crimes were robbery and assault.

The reports are based on police figures that are set to be officially presented on Monday by the Interior Ministry.

Of the violent offences recorded, cases of murder, homicide and voluntary euthanasia rose by 14.3 percent, reaching 2,400 cases, according to Bild. Rape and sexual assault increased by 12.8 percent to more than 7,900 cases. Hundreds of women reported sexual attacks on New Year’s Eve 2015-16 in cities like Cologne, mainly by groups of North African men.

According to criminal psychologist Rudolf Egg, murder and homicide have been decreasing in recent years, but noted that these kinds of figures tend to fluctuate.

Egg also pointed out that sometimes crimes that still remain in police statistics classified as murder later turn into charges of grievous bodily harm resulting in death by the time they get to court.

He observed that police statistics have also brought to light immigrant-related crimes in an increased way. Such crimes are not surprising because some immigrants have a “bunch of risk factors” due to their age and social structures: young, single men, without families, poorly integrated, with few professional prospects, who will likely not be permitted to stay in the country.

Many crimes are committed among immigrants against one another, and not against the “native German population”.

What is also noticeable, Egg said, is that comparatively few perpetrators are refugees fleeing wars or persecution.

CRIME

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard on Monday once again denied being complicit in war crimes during the Holocaust as his trial drew to a close in Germany.

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

Josef Schütz, the oldest person so far to face trial over Nazi crimes during World War II, is accused of involvement in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, has pleaded innocent throughout the trial, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said again at the close of the proceedings, his voice wavering.

Dressed in a grey shirt and pyjama bottoms and sitting in a wheelchair, Schütz insisted he had had nothing to do with the atrocities and was “telling the truth”.

READ ALSO: Ex-Nazi death camp secretary who fled trial to face court in Germany

Prosecutors say he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the crimes as a guard at the camp and are seeking to punish him with five years behind bars.

But Schütz’s lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, said that since there were no photographs of him wearing an SS uniform, the case was based on “hints” of his possible involvement.

“As early as 1973, investigators had information about him but did not pursue him. At the time, witnesses could have been heard but now they are all dead or no longer able to speak,” Waterkamp said.

Former Nazi guard

The 101-year-old former Nazi guard covers his face at the Neuruppin courthouse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

It would be a mistake for the court to try to “make up for the mistakes of a previous generation of judges”, the lawyer said.

Antoine Grumbach, 80, whose father died in Sachsenhausen, told AFP Schuetz “does not want to remember”, calling it “a form of defence”.

The trial was not just about “putting a centenarian in prison”, he said. It had also produced evidence that Sachsenhausen was an “experimental extermination camp”.

“All the cruellest methods were invented there and then exported,” Grumbach said.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor

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