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CRIME

Cologne police arrest Tunisian man on suspicion of possessing toxic substance

German police have arrested a Tunisian man after discovering "toxic substances" at his flat in Cologne, officials said Wednesday, with prosecutors not ruling out a possible terror motive.

Cologne police arrest Tunisian man on suspicion of possessing toxic substance
Special chemical units on the scene in Cologne. Photo: DPA

The man and his wife, whose nationality was not released, were detained late Tuesday night after officers raided their flat and came across “unknown substances” that are now being analysed by specialists, Cologne police said in a statement.

“We decided to take very swift action to ward off possible danger,” police spokesman Andre Fassbender told DPA news agency.

The 29-year-old Tunisian man is suspected of “handling toxic substances”, police said.

It was not immediately clear if his wife was still in custody on Wednesday.

According to German broadcaster NTV the woman is a German national who recently converted to Islam. She was said to be pregnant.

In a sign of how seriously authorities are taking the case, federal prosecutors have taken over the investigation.

According to DPA, investigators will now be probing whether the suspects were planning an attack.

Police officers, including special forces, were still combing the couple's flat on the first floor of a large apartment building on Wednesday morning.

Chemical experts wearing protective were seen removing plastic bags from the scene.

The couple's children have been taken into the care of city authorities.

Germany remains on high alert for jihadist attacks after several assaults claimed by the Islamic State group in the country in recent years.

In the worst such attack to date, Tunisian asylum seeker Anis Amri rammed a truck into crowds at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016, killing 12.

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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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