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CRIME

Western German court fines ‘sharia police’ patrol

A German court on Monday ordered seven Islamic fundamentalists to pay fines over a so-called "sharia police" patrol they launched in 2014 to mass media and political outrage.

Western German court fines 'sharia police' patrol
The men behind the 'sharia police' patrol on trial on Friday. Photo: DPA

The men aged between 27 and 37 must pay between 300 and 1,800 for infringing laws against wearing uniforms, the Wuppertal tribunal found.

Germany's laws against wearing uniforms originally aimed to prevent neo-Nazis staging rallies and parades.

Judges said the group's actions were aimed at achieving an “intimidating effect suggestive of militancy” by aping the sharia police that exist in some Middle Eastern countries as violent organizations.

In September 2014, the seven patrolled the streets of Wuppertal, a west German industrial town in North Rhine-Westphalia with a sizeable Muslim population, wearing orange high-visibility vests marked “Sharia Police”.

When they encountered young Muslims, they told them not to drink alcohol or visit cafes, betting shops or brothels.

Monday's verdict comes at the end of a second trial for the group after the constitutional court last year overturned their 2016 acquittal.

At the time of the “sharia police” patrol, the men were led by one of Germany's best-known fundamentalist preachers, Sven Lau, a 38-year-old convert to Islam.

He was himself sentenced in 2017 to a five-year jail term in a separate case, after being found guilty of “supporting a terrorist organization” by recruiting potential jihadists to travel to Syria.

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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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