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Update: Two more bodies found after mystery crossbow deaths in Bavarian hotel

German police said Monday two more bodies have been found during investigations into the deaths of three people discovered in a Bavarian hotel room and killed by crossbow bolts.

Update: Two more bodies found after mystery crossbow deaths in Bavarian hotel
The guesthouse in Passau where three bodies were found. Photo: DPA

The bodies were found in Gifhorn, Lower Saxony, in the apartment of one of the women discovered in Passau, Bavaria. The apartment was searched as part of the investigation into the discovery of the corpses in Passau.

Detectives were hoping for clues to the mysterious deaths of one man and two women, all apparently dead from being shot by crossbows. 

Gifhorn police told DPA they were investigating the identities of the two newly discovered women to determine their connection with the three dead found over the weekend. 

The two female corpses were found near the northern city of Hanover while detectives probed the mysterious deaths of a man and two women discovered over the weekend in the Bavarian town of Passau, close to the Austrian border.

The two crime scenes are 645 kilometres apart at opposite ends of Germany.

No details were given as to whether the latest two corpses in Lower Saxony had also been killed by crossbow bolts.

“Further details and identities of the two women are still unknown – possible connections to the dead found in Passau are currently the subject of investigations,” said police in a statement.

Forensic police officers were combing both crime scenes on Monday for clues.

The news that shocked Passau

On Saturday, hotel staff in Passau discovered the three dead Germans in their room around noon alongside two crossbows.

The news has stunned the local residents in Passau, a picturesque Bavarian town on the Austrian border.

A third crossbow was later found packed inside a bag, police said. The three were a 33-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man from Rhineland-Palatinate state and a 30-year-old woman from Lower Saxony, who had arrived Friday.

“There are currently no indications that other persons were involved,” said police spokesman Stefan Gaisbauer.

Local media reported that the man and the 33-year-old woman were found dead in the bed, holding hands, with bolts in their heads and chests, while the 30-year-old woman was found lying on the floor with a bolt in her chest.

Reports said the three had arrived Friday from different parts of Germany and had all checked in without luggage.

They only returned to their cars later, after the reception was closed, to get the bags containing the crossbows.

One of the women had booked the triple room for 85 euros a night, without breakfast, for three nights.

“It was a strange group,” a guest recalled, according to the newspaper Bild, saying that the bearded man wore a suit while the women were dressed in black.

They had all wished a “good evening”, taken glasses of soft drink and water, and then disappeared into the second-floor room as rain fell outside.

Police said the town's prosecutor had ordered the autopsies which aimed to ascertain the cause and circumstances of the deaths.

Initial results from the post-mortem investigations were expected by Tuesday morning, police said.

The German Shooting and Archery Federation told DPA that anyone over the age of 18 may buy a crossbow according to German law.

Death at refugee centre sparks unrest

Meanwhile, the death of a 31-year-old Nigerian woman at a refugee processing centre in southern Bavaria caused a clash to break out between police and asylum claimants.

The police attempted to retrieve the woman’s body at the refugee centre in Regensburg, but were pelted with rocks and glass bottles by around 50 residents of the processing centre. 

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More police were called in and the woman’s body was eventually retrieved after a three-hour standoff.

Investigators said there do not seem to be any suspicious circumstances associated with the death, with Spiegel Online reporting that the woman died of natural causes. 

The woman leaves behind three children aged nine, five and three, who will now go into the care of the state.

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IMMIGRATION

What Germany’s plans for a points-based system mean for foreigners

To tackle its ever-widening skills gap, Germany wants to encourage talent from aboard to move to the country by introducing a points-based immigration system. Here's what foreigners need to know about the changes.

What Germany's plans for a points-based system mean for foreigners

What’s a points-based system?

A points-based system is an immigration model where foreigners have to score above a certain threshold of points in order to obtain a residence or work permit in a country. The exact scoring system is set by the government, but can include factors like language skills, family connections to the country, specific qualifications or work-related skills, or the amount of money in your bank account. 

Points-based systems can also be known as “merit-based systems”, because there tends to be a pretty big emphasis on what you can offer a country in terms of education or skills. 

The model was first introduced in Canada way back in 1967 as the country tried to move past a system based on race and nationality to one that favoured language fluency, youth and educational or vocational background. A similar step was taken in Australia just a few years later in 1972 and, since Brexit, the UK has also introduced its own points-based model. 

How does this relate to Germany?

When the new ‘traffic-light’ coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) took office last December, the parties pledged to reform Germany’s immigration system and bring a fresh cohort of workers into the country.

“In addition to the existing immigration law, we will establish a second pillar with the introduction of an opportunity card based on a points system to enable workers to gain controlled access to the German labour market in order to find a job,” the coalition agreement read.

This would apply to third-country nationals who don’t otherwise have the right to live and work in the country. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What Germany’s new government means for citizenship and naturalisation

German language course poster

A sign advertising German courses. Language skills can count towards points in a points-based system. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Bernd Wüstneck

FDP migration specialist Dr. Ann-Veruschka Jurisch, who is working on these reforms, says the policy is driven by Germany’s desperate need for workers. 

“The Liberal Party (FDP) is convinced that we need more labour migration,” she told The Local. “We do have a lot of options for coming into Germany as a labour migrant – but it’s a bit complicated – and if you want to come to Germany to search for a job and you don’t come from an EU country, it’s much more difficult.”

That’s why the coalition is aiming to offer a second route for people who don’t have job lined up in Germany, but who otherwise have the skills or talent to find one. 

What will this look like?

The plans for the points-based system are still at an early stage, so the exact criteria haven’t been worked out yet.

What’s clear at this stage, however, is that the points-based option would run parallel to the current model, which generally permits people with a concrete job offer in a skilled profession to come and work in the country. 

“It’s about (people having) a good opportunity to come to Germany when they have either a job offer in sight or a direct job offer,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said in response to parliamentary question in January. 

“Next to that, we want to achieve a further possibility for talent – for qualified men and women whose skills we need in Germany, who still don’t have a work contract but, if given access, could use that opportunity. That’s what we’re talking about with this Canadian points-based system. It shouldn’t replace our current system, but rather improve it.”

In short, that means that people with a job lined up won’t be disadvantaged – but there will be alternative routes for those without them. It also won’t affect the EU blue card scheme

READ ALSO: ‘I finally feel at home’: How Germany’s planned changes to citizenship laws affect foreigners

Will people need formal qualifications? 

Probably not – though it will obviously depend on the sector someone works in and their level of experience in their chosen field.

“I personally am convinced that you shouldn’t place too much emphasis on formal qualifications, because it’s very complicated getting your formal qualifications recognised in Germany,” said Jurisch.

“A medical doctor, for example, is one where you can’t say, ‘Okay, you’ve got some experience so we don’t need to see your papers.’ But there are a lot of other jobs which do not have this restriction and they are not formalised but rather based on practical experience.”

Carpenter wood

A carpenter sands down a block of wood in Cologne. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

The issue of recognising qualifications is also a problem that the traffic-light coalition has set their sights on solving during their time in office.

At the moment, the process of getting qualifications officially recognised in Germany is done on a state-by-state basis, so somebody who gets their degree recognised in Brandenburg may have to redo the entire process again in Bavaria, for instance.

According to Jurisch, there have already been conversations between the Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Education on the issue, and Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) has also promised to take steps to solve it.

But, she said, it’s complicated: “I’ve started to dive into this issue, and the more I dive into it, the more complicated it becomes – so there are no silver bullets.” 

How many workers are needed – and where? 

In order to plug its labour shortages, Germany needs around 400,000 new workers every year, according to the Federal Employment Agency. In 2020, Germany’s net migration was just 200,000 and 150,000 people of working age entered retirement – which means the country is currently falling well short of its targets. 

“We have shortages everywhere,” Jurisch said. “We need 400,000 new workers every year, and these people won’t be born in Germany – or if they are, they won’t grow up for another 20 years.

“We haven’t managed to get more women into the labour market, or they work part time, so I don’t think this will make a big difference, and I don’t think we will close the gap by training people.”

In this sense, it seems that immigration is the only option for filling major staff shortages in almost every profession. 

“Whoever I talk to, be it nurses, nannies, IT workers, industrial workers, teachers, lawyers – everywhere we have a shortage,” Jurisch said.

staff shortages Germany

A sign outside a restaurant informs customers of a closure due to staff shortages. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Sauer

When will the points-based system be introduced?

Unlike with the plans to reform citizenship, which the SDP-led Interior Ministry wants to achieve by the end of the year, there’s no firm timeline in place for the points-based system.

However, the FDP is fighting for the policy to be given higher priority and would like to introduce the new visa system before the next federal election in 2025. 

“I hope it will be done in this legislative period,” said Jurisch. “I’m pushing to get it a little bit higher up on the agenda.” 

READ ALSO: INTERVIEW: ‘Changing German citizenship laws is a priority’

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