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CRIME

Germany investigating 30,000 suspects in paedophile probe

Germany is investigating some 30,000 suspects as part of a widening probe into a paedophile network in the western Bergisch Gladbach region, authorities said Monday.

Germany investigating 30,000 suspects in paedophile probe
Photo: DPA

The cyber crime unit in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is investigating 30,000 unknown suspects” in the case, the justice ministry for Germany's most populous state said in a tweet.

“We want to drag perpetrators and supporters of child abuse out of the anonymity of the internet,” the ministry said.

Those being investigated are suspected of sharing “child and youth pornographic content” including “fictitious and/or real acts of abuse” in anonymous online discussion forums and chat groups, the cyber crime unit ZAC NRW said in a statement.

From July 1st, the North Rhine-Westphalia justice ministry plans to launch a task force in a bid to prosecute paedophiles on the net, as well as cyber terrorists and hackers, reported Spiegel.

“I did not expect, not even remotely, the extent of child abuse on the internet,” North Rhine-Westphalia's justice minister Peter Beisenbach told reporters.

What the investigation team had uncovered was “deeply disturbing”, he said.

“We must recognise that child abuse on the internet is more widespread than we had previously thought.”

The abuse investigations began last October with the arrest of a suspected perpetrator in Bergisch Gladbach, near Cologne.

To date, just over 70 suspects have been identified throughout Germany.

In May, the first offender – a 27-year-old soldier – was sentenced to 10 years in prison and placed in a psychiatric hospital for an indefinite period.

Germany has been left shocked at the discovery of several serious cases of child sex abuse over the past 18 months.

In early June, 11 people were arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing children and filming their actions after videos and photos were seized from the cellar of a 27-year-old man from the western city of Münster, also in North Rhine-Westphalia state.

Investigators said they had identified at least three victims, aged five, 10 and 12 years old.

Officials said then that investigative capacities on child abuse had been increased, which would likely lead to the discovery of more cases.

In an earlier scandal in Lügde, 125 kilometres (80 miles) from Muenster, several men abused children several hundred times at a campsite over a period of several years.

SEE ALSO: Police 'failures' probed 'in the largest child abuse scandal in German history'

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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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