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CRIME

Police stumped after needles found in products at south German supermarket

After five cases of needles being found in the food of a Baden-Württemberg discounter, police and food inspectors are working to find a culprit and a motive.

Police stumped after needles found in products at south German supermarket
Photo: DPA

Since December, police have registered five cases of customers who have found pins in food items they bought at an Offenburg discount supermarket in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg.

The products were delivered correctly and were manipulated in the store, according to the police. Customers discovered the sharp objects in toast bread and in a salami snack package. If swallowed, needles can cause severe internal injuries. Customers however noticed them before eating the food.

But how did the needles end up in the food?

“We are doing everything we can to find out,” said Karen Stürzel, spokeswoman for the Offenburg police headquarters. “The packages will be examined and possible witnesses will be questioned.”

This past September, a 53-year-old man placed ethyleneglycol, a poisonous substance, in food in supermarkets in Baden-Württenberg then demanded millions of euros in cash from a trading company. The man was later arrested in the Tübingen area of the state.

READ ALSO: German man admits poisoning baby food

However, in this case, there is no evidence of extortion, says Stürzel.

The supermarket from where the pins have emerged has increased security measures and has already removed the food found with needles. New goods will be visually inspected before being sorted, according to a company spokesperson.

Representatives from food inspection authorities are working with the police and metal detectors may be used to check food products in the future.

The Baden-Württemberg Consumer Protection Agency is appealing to customers to pay close attention to food packages. “If there are indications of manipulation – in the present case, for example, small holes – the authorities should be informed,” says press officer Niklaas Haskamp.

A transparent company policy is also important. “As a consumer, I want to know which products are affected,” Haskamp added.

CRIME

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.

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