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Berlin police recover Lennon items ‘stolen by Yoko Ono’s driver’

Diaries, prescription glasses and a cigarette case are among some 100 items belonging to John Lennon that have been recovered in Berlin after they were allegedly stolen by Yoko Ono's driver in 2006, German officials said on Tuesday.

Berlin police recover Lennon items 'stolen by Yoko Ono's driver'
Yoko Ono and John Lennon in 1980. Photo: DPA.

The suspect, Koral Karsan, lives in Turkey and is currently out of reach of German law enforcement, police said as they presented the late Beatle's rediscovered personal effects at a press conference.

The former chauffeur worked for Ono from 1995 to 2006. He already spent 60 days in jail in 2007 in the United States for trying to blackmail Lennon's widow Ono.

“We believe (he) is guilty and the suspected thief of the objects,” Carsten Pfohl of Berlin's criminal police office told reporters.

The possessions were stolen from Ono's New York home in 2006.

A total of 86 items – including postcards, letters, handwritten music scores and two pairs of Lennon's trademark round glasses – were discovered at a bankrupt Berlin auction house in July.

More items were found hidden in the car of another suspect in the case, a 58-year-old German national who was arrested Monday on suspicion of fraud and handling stolen goods.

One of the three diaries from the haul contains an entry penned by Lennon on December 8, 1980 – the day he was shot dead by a disturbed fan outside his Manhattan apartment building.

“We were amazed by what we found,” said Berlin prosecutor Michael von Hagen, calling the trove part of “music history”.

Along with co-Beatle Paul McCartney, Lennon wrote some of the Fab Four's biggest hits including “Help” and “With a Little Help from My Friends”, before the band split in 1970.

His possessions have since become collectors' items.

A leather jacket supposedly worn by Lennon sold for £10,400 (€11,700; $13,800) at an auction in England in February.

READ ALSO: Court rules Hamburg bar cannot keep its name after Yoko Ono sues

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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