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CRIME

Two jailed for kicking homeless man to death and burning body

A Cologne court on Tuesday sentenced a man and a woman to jail for kicking a homeless man to death, and then burning his body last year.

Two jailed for kicking homeless man to death and burning body
The underpass in Cologne. Photo: DPA

On a cold November night last year, police discovered a fire in an underpass in the inner city of Cologne, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reports. Only upon closer inspection did they realize that there was a body within the flames.

A medic called to the scene could only confirm the death.

Further investigations revealed that the man had regularly slept in the underpass, and that two other homeless people were responsible for his murder.

Both of the culprits were sentenced to seven years and six months in jail on Tuesday by the state court in Cologne. The sentence went further than the punishment called for by prosecutors.

The culprits kicked their victim to death, aiming at his head and stomach, the court heard. They then burned him to try to eradicate the evidence.

The defendants claimed they had acted in self-defence, saying the victim had sexually assaulted the woman.

According to the SZ, violence against and among homeless people has been increasing in recent years.

A report by the Federation for the Support of the Homeless (BAGW) published in January found that 17 homeless people were killed in Germany in 2016, and that there were a further 128 cases of violent assault.

In one case that made national headlines in December, a group of young refugees set fire to the belongings of a sleeping homeless man in a Berlin metro station. The main culprit was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison earlier this month.

GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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