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POLICE

Escaped mentally ill prisoner remains at large in Cologne area

Police are searching for a mentally ill prisoner convicted of killing his neighbour after he escaped from a secure psychiatric hospital in Cologne, western Germany.

Escaped mentally ill prisoner remains at large in Cologne area
Photo: DPA

Otto Krüger, 67, was granted permission to temporarily leave his ward at 1:45pm on Sunday but he failed to return to the facility at the agreed time.

Now police are warning the public not to approach the man, who is dependent on medication and can be “very aggressive”.

It is thought he could be in or around the cities of Cologne and Bonn in North Rhine-Westphalia.

In 1998 the man kicked his 78-year-old neighbour to death in Bad Godesberg, south of Bonn. The following year he was placed in a closed psychiatric ward by a Bonn court.

The man had previously gone missing in December 2014 during an accompanied visit to a Christmas market. RP Online reported that he was on the run for two weeks but was caught after witnesses spotted him in a bistro.

Police have asked anyone with information on Krüger's whereabouts to contact them.

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POLICE

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.

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