Germany’s most notorious hostage-taker to be released after 30 years behind bars

Dieter Degowski is to be released from jail almost three decades after he was found guilty of taking part in a hostage situation which was relayed live to the country over three days.

Germany’s most notorious hostage-taker to be released after 30 years behind bars
Dieter Degowski with hostage Silke Bischoff. Photo: DPA

Degowski will be set free in the coming months, a court spokesperson said on Tuesday. He will receive a new identity in order to aid his assimilation back into society.

Along with accomplice Hans-Jürgen Rösner, Degowski took dozens of hostages after a bank robbery went wrong in the city of Gladbeck, near the Dutch border in 1988.

The pair initially took two bank clerks captive before demanding more money and a getaway car. They then went on a three-day tour of western Germany, picking up Rösner’s girlfriend, Marion Löblich, and taking a whole bus full of people hostage.

All the while they were followed by a horde of journalists to whom they gladly gave interviews. In scarcely believable scenes, reporters also interviewed hostages while the duo pointed guns at their heads.

Along the way the criminals shot a 15-year-old Italian after police managed to capture Löblich.

After a detour into the Netherlands and a stop at Cologne Cathedral to do some sightseeing, the pair were stopped on the Autobahn south of the cathedral city by police. An 18-year-old hostage was killed in the resultant shoot-out.

The case has subsequently become infamous for the way in which journalists willingly aided the fugitives.

One journalist, who showed them the way out of Cologne, later admitted :”journalistically, we totally messed up.”

Rösner is still in jail in the city of Aachen.

READ MORE: The real-life crime played out across three days of TV


German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.