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CRIME

German prosecutors say poaching led to double police murder

German prosecutors said Tuesday they believe a duo suspected of shooting dead two police officers during a routine traffic check were trying to escape being found out for illegal hunting of animals.

Candles stand near the road where two police offers were shot to death in western Germany.
Candles stand near the road where two police offers were shot to death in western Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Harald Tittel

The two suspects, aged 38 and 32, appear to have gunned down the officers “to conceal the poaching”, prosecutor Stefan Orthen told a press conference in the western city of Kaiserslautern.

Dead game had been found in the boot of their car when it was stopped, investigators said.

The shooting in the Kusel district of Rhineland-Palatinate state in the early hours of Monday morning sent shockwaves across Germany.

The victims were a 24-year-old female police officer still in training and her 29-year-old male colleague.

The young woman was killed by a single shot to the head, while the male officer was shot four times, investigators said.

The officers were able to report that they were checking a suspicious vehicle and that shots were being fired before radio contact broke off.

When backup arrived, the woman was already dead and the man fatally injured. The perpetrators had fled the scene.

The crime triggered a major manhunt, with police deploying helicopters and sniffer dogs, sealing off roads and warning local residents not to pick up hitchhikers.

READ ALSO: Germany arrests two suspects in double police shooting

‘Disturbing’

The suspects were arrested on Monday evening in the neighbouring state of Saarland after the 38-year-old’s ID was found lying near the body of the female officer.

Police had released a photo of the 38-year-old posing in what appeared to be a bakery and named him as Andreas Johannes Schmitt.

Both suspects are already known to police: the 38-year-old for poaching and fleeing the scene of a traffic accident, and the 32-year-old for fraud allegations.

They were remanded in custody on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Udo Gehring called the crime “disturbing” and “rare”.

“It does not fit with our idea of Germany that someone starts shooting with a hunting weapon in the street just because he was caught poaching,” he said.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday said the act had left him “deeply saddened”.

Gun crime is relatively rare in Germany, which has some of the strictest gun laws in Europe.

However, just last week, an 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University, killing a young woman and injuring three others before turning the weapon on himself.

In September, a 20-year-old petrol station worker was shot dead by a customer angry about being asked to wear a face mask while buying beer.

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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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