Five people arrested for allegedly ‘enslaving’ German teens

A German man and four others were arrested in Romania for allegedly holding troubled German teenagers like slaves, officials said Thursday.

Five people arrested for allegedly 'enslaving' German teens
Archive photo shows police siren. Photo: DPA

A judge ordered the five to be detained for 30 days, the German's lawyer loan Sas told AFP.

The man, who founded a programme for adolescents with problems, is “accused of creating an organized criminal group, human trafficking and sequestration”, he said.

“There is no proof against him,” Sas said, adding the centre continued to operate.

The man's German wife and two others, who were also involved with the programme, have been placed under judicial control and will have to report to police while investigations are on, prosecutors said.

The “Projekt Maramures”, financed by the German state, was licensed by Romania's labour ministry, according to investigators.

A German foreign ministry spokeswoman has said her country had not been aware of any problem in the past 20 years.

But Romanian prosecutors allege children aged 12 to 18 were detained in “slavery-like conditions”, forced to “do exhausting physical labour”.

They were treated in “humiliating and degrading” ways on a farm and in numerous households in the Maramures county village of Viseu de Sus.

The teens were beaten, deprived of food, not allowed to study or take prescription medicines, had no contact with the outside world and were targets of “harsh and brutal methods of so-called re-education”, they said.

A total of 20 children were in the centre when prosecutors searched it on Tuesday, together with seven in other houses, according to the local child protection agency.

Four of the children are now in the care of social services, waiting for their parents or legal guardian.

“The others are still in the centre, which continues to function normally,” Sas told AFP.

Abuse allegations surrounding the programme have surfaced in Romanian media in the past, but no action had been taken until now.

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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.