Police trainees investigated over rioting and ‘Heil Hitler’ call in Berlin

Seven men between the ages of 19 and 25 were temporarily detained on Monday evening after a witness reported them “bawling” and attacking public property. They all turned out to be police trainees.

Police trainees investigated over rioting and ‘Heil Hitler’ call in Berlin
Photo: DPA

The Staatsschutz (the political crime unit) are now investigating the case after the witness initially claimed that one of the men shouted the words “Heil Hitler.” During later questioning at the police station the man was not able to definitively say whether he heard those words.

The 40-year-old man had called the police after he witnessed the group of men shouting loudly and kicking electricity boxes and telephone junction boxes. When police officers tuned up they took the men’s details and at that point discovered that they were police academy trainees.

“We will look very closely at this incident,” said police chief Klaus Kandt on Tuesday. “Regardless of whether something criminal happened here or not, I expect that all trainees with the Berlin police act in a respectable way in their free time.”

The Berlin police have had their image tarnished by several controversies this year.

In November police chiefs were forced into a public denial of claims that their academy had been infiltrated by Arabic crime syndicates.

German Police Union spokesman Bodo Pfalzgraf sparked the controversy by telling broadcaster ZDF that there were “clear indications” that Arabic mafia families had developed a strategy of placing family members inside the police force.

Police chief Kandt dismissed the claims as “categorically false.”

“Nobody who has made complaints has presented any proof,” he said.

Meanwhile in June, a unit of the Berlin police that had been sent to Hamburg to secure the city during the G20 summit were sent home early after they held a raucous party at their lodgings.

Witnesses reported seeing the officers having public sex and urinating in groups on fences. Police chiefs in the capital announced an internal investigation into the incident, after admitting that the officers’ behaviour did not meet the standards expected from public servants.


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.