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CRIME

Two mass brawls leave eight injured in Berlin’s busy Alexanderplatz

Alexanderplatz is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the German capital. But it is also regularly the scene of violent crime, as two mass brawls over the weekend once again proved.

Two mass brawls leave eight injured in Berlin’s busy Alexanderplatz
Berlin's Alexanderplatz. Photo: DPA

Police arrested 16 young men at Alexanderplatz in central Berlin over the weekend in connection with two mass brawls, involving knives and tear gas, that broke out over the weekend.

The first clash occurred late on Friday night and left six men injured. One 18-year-old had to undergo emergency surgery after being stabbed in the back. By Saturday he was in stable condition in hospital.

A 13-year-old who police say was accidentally caught up in the violence was also slightly injured and needed to be treated at the scene.

According to police, those involved in the brawl were Afghan and Syrian citizens. Police made eight arrests.

The second brawl took place on Saturday evening when an argument escalated between two groups of men for reasons which are not yet clear.

Two men were left injured after the fight, which involved men from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. Police arrested eight men aged between 15 and 25.

Police are looking into whether there is a possible connection between the two fights.

Alexanderplatz has now been the scene of three violent confrontations within a week. Last Tuesday a 21-year-old man from Afghanistan was stabbed when a group of around 20 men attacked him and his friends.

The Berlin square which is famed for being the location of the Fernsehturm, the capital's highest structure, has a deserved reputation as a focal point of petty criminality and violence. Police recorded 7,820 crimes there in 2016, with most of the crimes involving theft.

A new police station is being built at the square which will be manned 24 hours a day. It is scheduled to open in December.

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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