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CRIME

Man arrested in Spain on suspicion of murdering Leipzig hitchhiker

A 28-year-old student from Leipzig intended to hitchhike to her hometown in Bavaria when she went missing. A man has been arrested in Spain on suspicion of murder, German media report.

Man arrested in Spain on suspicion of murdering Leipzig hitchhiker
Photo: Sophia L. police handout

Authorities in Spain have arrested a man in connection with the disappearance of 28-year-old student Sophia L.

A police spokesman in Leipzig confirmed the arrest but gave no further details about the identity of the man. Several German media outlets have reported that he is a 40-year-old truck driver.

Sophia L. was last seen on Thursday when she left Leipzig to hitchhike to her home town of Amberg in northern Bavaria.

According to Spiegel, investigators believe that she was murdered. They have since searched a stretch of woods near the A9 autobahn in Bavaria.

The student reportedly rode the S-Bahn from her Leipzig home to the nearby town of Schkeuditz where she talked to several people asking for a ride. Police say that she got into a truck at around 6pm and has not been seen since.

The missing student’s brother has told the media that she sent an innocuous-seeming SMS to several friends at around 7.45pm.

Her family reported her missing on Friday after she failed to arrive home.

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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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