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CRIME

Police raids target users of illegal online forum in Germany

Police in Germany have arrested 32 people and detained 11 after nationwide raids targeting users of an illegal online platform, prosecutors in Frankfurt and Bamberg said Wednesday.

Police raids target users of illegal online forum in Germany
Photo: DPA

More than 1,400 police were involved in the raids in 15 of Germany's 16 states and in neighbouring Austria and Poland on Tuesday, said prosecutors in Bamberg, in the southern state of Bavaria.

READ ALSO: German police shut down major 'darknet' illegal trading site

Police said they found weapons, drugs, computers, around €50,000 in cash, cryptocurrency and more than 300 terabytes of data in the raids on 232 sites.

The raids targeted users of crimenetwork.co, an “underground economy forum that trades almost exclusively in illegal goods and services” according to the Frankfurt prosecutors.

These include drugs and narcotics, counterfeit money, data including credit card information, forged documents and cash, malware and hacker tools including botnets.

Then aged 26, the administrator of the forum was arrested on entering Germany in May 2019 on a separate charge and the site was seized by police.

Authorities across several German states have been investigating users of the platform since August.

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CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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