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CRIME

Women attacked in Berlin cinema for asking men to stop smoking

Three women were physically attacked and threatened with a knife on Sunday evening when they asked two male cinema-goers to put out their cigarettes.

Women attacked in Berlin cinema for asking men to stop smoking
Photo: DPA

The two men, both 21 years of age, were sitting in the row in front of the women in a cinema in the Tiergarten neighbourhood when the incident occurred, police report.

But instead of stubbing out their cigarettes, they turned around, hit the women in the face, ripped at their clothes and then threatened them with a knife.

The young men then fled from the cinema in a taxi. But the women were able to note down the taxi number, leading police to arrest the pair shortly afterwards.

The women were treated at the scene by medics.

In an unrelated incident, a man attacked a lesbian couple in the centre of Berlin on Sunday afternoon as they were sitting on a park bench.

The 30-year-old approached the women and started talking to them in English. When they told him they weren't interested in a conversation, he went away. But shortly later he returned and stood right in front of one of the pair, who pushed him away. He immediately reacted by kicking and punching her in the head.

When the women’s 28-year-old girlfriend tried to defend her, the man threw a bottle at her head and began to strangle her. The woman fell to the floor and lost consciousness.

Bypassers who were alerted to the assault were able to restrain the man until police arrived.

CRIME

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

A German court on Tuesday handed a five-year jail sentence to a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, the oldest person so far to go on trial for complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust.

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

Josef S. was found guilty of being an accessory to murder while working as a prison guard at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945, presiding judge Udo Lechtermann said.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, had pleaded innocent, 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 at the close of his trial on Monday.

But prosecutors said he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the camp and called for him to be punished with five years behind bars.

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

More than 200,000 people, including Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gay people, were detained at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1936 and 1945.

Tens of thousands of inmates died from forced labour, murder, medical experiments, hunger or disease before the camp was liberated by Soviet troops, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.

Prosecutors said the man had aided and abetted the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942” and the murder of prisoners “using the poisonous gas Zyklon B”.

He was 21 years old at the time.

Contradictory statements

During the trial, S. made several inconsistent statements about his past, complaining that his head was getting “mixed up”.

At one point, the centenarian said he had worked as an agricultural labourer in Germany for most of World War II, a claim contradicted by several historical documents bearing his name, date and place of birth.

After the war, the man was transferred to a prison camp in Russia before returning to Germany, where he worked as a farmer and a locksmith.

He remained at liberty during the trial, which began in 2021 but has been delayed several times because of his health.

Despite his conviction, he is highly unlikely to be put behind bars, given his age.

His lawyer Stefan Waterkamp told AFP ahead of the verdict that if found guilty, he would appeal.

More than seven decades after World War II, German prosecutors are racing to bring the last surviving Nazi perpetrators to justice.

The 2011 conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk, on the basis that he served as part of Hitler’s killing machine, set a legal precedent and paved the way for several of these twilight justice cases.

Since then, courts have handed down several guilty verdicts on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.

By David COURBET

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