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CRIME

Update: Son of former German president stabbed to death at Berlin hospital

The son of former German president Richard von Weizsäcker was killed after presenting a lecture at a Berlin hospital.

Update: Son of former German president stabbed to death at Berlin hospital
Fritz von Weizsäcker (pictured second from left) was killed in Berlin on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Fritz von Weizsäcker, who worked as a doctor, had just delivered a lecture on liver diseases at the Schlosspark hospital in the western Berlin neighbourhood of Charlottenburg on Tuesday evening when he was stabbed, a police spokesman said. One other person was seriously injured.

The 59-year-old, a father-of-four, died at the scene despite efforts to save him. The incident took place around 6.50pm.

Around 20 people were in attendance at the lecture. The suspect was overpowered by the other people present, one of whom, said to be an off-duty policeman, was severely injured by the attacker.

Prosecutors said the 57-year-old attacker had bought the knife in his home state of Rhineland-Palatinate in the far west of Germany and travelled to Berlin by train.

They said he had been diagnosed with an “acute mental illness” and had a “probably delusional general dislike” of the Weizsäcker family.

Police tweeted about the “violent attack” on Tuesday night.

Head of the pro-business FDP party, Christian Lindner, paid tribute to his friend on Twitter, calling him a “passionate doctor and a fine person”. He voiced his grief, saying that “once again we ask ourselves what sort of world are we living in.”

His father, Richard von Weizsäcker, was considered one of Germany's great post-war political figures.

Spiegel magazine said the suspect had researched the elder Weizsäcker's role on the board of chemicals giant Böhringer Ingelheim during the 1960s before he began his political career.

The company at the time reportedly supplied the United States with some of the chemicals in Agent Orange, a powerful defoliant used in the Vietnam War that caused severe health problems for humans exposed to it.

Weizsäcker was president of West Germany from 1984 to 1990, and then held the same position in the united Germany from 1990 to 1994.

He was previously a deputy in the lower house of parliament for the CDU now led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, and mayor of West Berlin. He died in 2015.

Merkel said the killing was “a terrible moment for the von Weizsäcker family”, her spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.

 

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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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