Police alleged to have used banned combat weapon during G20 riots

Authorities in Hamburg are facing new accusations of abuse of power during July’s G20 summit, after Spiegel reported on Tuesday that they used a banned weapon to fire on rioters.

Police alleged to have used banned combat weapon during G20 riots
A special forces officer in Hamburg during G20 rioting. Photo: DPA

Police used an MZP 1 multipurpose pistol to shoot rubber bullets on 15 occasions and tear gas on a further 67 occasions during rioting in the port city between July 6th and July 8th.

Hamburg authorities insist that the weapon is technically a pistol which they are permitted to use to maintain domestic security. But a Finance Ministry document seen by Spiegel classifies the guns as a banned combat weapon.

The maker of the weapon, Heckler & Koch, also told Spiegel that the MZP 1 is not classified as a pistol, but rather as a grenade launcher.

Ulrich Karpen, a legal expert at Hamburg University, said that the law does not permit for the use of the MZP 1 pointing out that it does not appear on a comprehensive list of weapons which the police are allowed to use.

Die Linke (the Left Party) are now considering filing a legal complaint against police commander Hartmut Dudde, who was in charge of the operation. Die Linke claim he broke German law on the use of combat weapons by authorizing the use of the MZP 1.

According to Spiegel, Hamburg police said before the summit that they would use neither tear gas nor rubber bullets against protesters, but justified the change in tactic through the extreme escalation in violence.

Rioting began in Hamburg on Friday July 6th and continued until the Sunday. Black bloc protesters burned cars and smashed in the windows of shops in several parts of the city, causing several million euros worth of damage.

Police won initial sympathy after 500 officers were injured in clashes with masked protesters. Subsequently at least 35 investigations were launched into alleged crimes by officers against demonstrators, most of which were assaults.

Critics accuse the police of deliberately escalating the violence by intervening in a protest on the Friday night when some demonstrators refused to obey an order to remove face masks.


German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.