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CRIME

Former ‘Mr Germany’ on trial for shooting police officer

A former "Mr Germany" suspected of belonging to the loosely-organized far-right "Reichsbürger" movement appeared in court in eastern city Halle on Monday, facing charges of attempted murder after a gunfight with police officers.

Former 'Mr Germany' on trial for shooting police officer
Adrian Ursache in court in Halle, Germany. Photo: DPA.

Adrian Ursache, 42, is accused of shooting one policeman in the throat in August 2016, when he opened fire on a special unit sent to evict him from his home in the village of Reuden.

An armoured vest saved the police officer's life, while Ursache himself was badly hurt in the firefight.

He could face a life sentence if found guilty.

As the trial got under way under heavy security, Ursache's lawyers immediately demanded it be called off, claiming the charge documents were incomplete and riddled with errors.

“I was holding a weapon in my hand, but I didn't fire at any moment” during the confrontation with police, the accused told a journalist in the courtroom before proceedings began, adding that he only “resisted” the officers.

Ursache won the “Mr Germany” contest in 1998, going on to marry a former
beauty queen and have two children.

The country's internal security services suspect he belongs to the shadowy “Reichsbürger” or “citizens of the Reich” movement, an umbrella term for disparate groups that reject the modern Federal Republic of Germany.

Reichsbürger followers generally believe in the continued existence of the pre-war German Reich and several groups have declared their own states.

Many refuse to pay taxes, social contributions or fines and issue their own identity documents, practices that bring them into conflict regularly with state authorities.

Neo-Nazi views and conspiracy theories are widespread among adherents of the movement.

Ursache's gun battle with police launched a series of violent confrontations involving so-called “Reichsbürger”.

Another follower, Wolfgang Plan, appeared in court in Nuremberg in late August accused of shooting a policeman dead during an October 2016 raid.

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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