Misfiring Mane Headlines Bayern’s Woes Ahead Of Leverkusen Clash

mane-bayern
Munich’s Sadio Mane (l) in action against Augsburg’s Andre Hahn (r). Photo: Tom Weller/dpa

 

Bayern Munich’s history of success in German football can often see the term “crisis” thrown around the moment points are dropped, but with the team sitting fifth in the Bundesliga after seven games, there is little doubt all is not well.

Bayern host Bayer Leverkusen on Friday night winless since mid-August, an unfamiliar position for a club which is vying for 11 titles in a row.

Bayern’s struggles are mirrored by those of the misfiring Sadio Mane, with the summer arrival goalless in five matches after scoring five times in his opening six games.

Sporting Director Hasan Salihamidzic has backed the summer arrival to rekindle his early season form, saying the former Liverpool striker “needs a bit of time to get used to the Bundesliga”.

“I know what it’s like to arrive as a newcomer in a team, in another country, another city, a slightly different football culture,” Salihamidzic, who moved from his native Bosnia to play for Hamburg as a 15-year-old, told Germany’s Sportbild.

“Sadio is in this process, everything will soon be more familiar to him and we will soon see that on the pitch.”

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Bayern president Herbert Hainer promised on Wednesday “we’ll see a whole different team on Friday – and a winning team too”, saying his side “will step on the gas” against the visiting Leverkusen.

Munich’s opponents on Friday are also going through a rough patch, with the visitors having won just one from seven to start the season to sit in 15th alongside an early German Cup exit.

Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann hailed as a potential 10-year coach at the club even before winning the Bundesliga title last year, is going through the toughest time, overseeing Bayern’s longest winless run in more than two decades.

Never a good omen, Salihamidzic told the media on Wednesday that Nagelsmann “is under no internal pressure at all” at the club despite the team sitting five points behind leaders Union Berlin.

However, the looming presence of the suddenly jobless Thomas Tuchel – born just an hour away in the Bavarian town of Kulmbach – will give the trigger-happy Munich hierarchy plenty to think about.

One to watch: Urs Fischer (Union Berlin)

Typical of the Swiss coach’s understated nature, Fischer extended his contract with Union Berlin on Wednesday to limited fanfare.

Fischer, who extended for an undisclosed period alongside assistant coach Markus Hoffmann, took over Union in the summer of 2018, with the never-promoted club sitting in the middle of the second division.

Fischer, who won the Swiss league twice and the cup once with Basel, took Union to the first division in his first season in charge, before guiding them to 11th, seventh and fifth in subsequent top-flight seasons.

After seven matchdays, Union currently sit first in the Bundesliga table.

“What we have been able to experience together over the last few years is incredible,” said Fischer.

“I find it hard to put into words. As I have often said, I feel very much at home at Union.”

Union Berlin play away at Frankfurt on Saturday afternoon.

Key stats

Three in four – Bayern Munich have only won three points from their last four games – the first time that has happened in 21 years.

Zero – The amount of German titles won by Bayer Leverkusen in their history. They’ve been second on five occasions (1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2001–02, 2010–11) and also lost the 2002 Champions League final to Real Madrid.

19 March, 2022 – The last time top-of-the-table Union Berlin lost a Bundesliga match, going down 4-0 away at Bayern Munich. They are the only unbeaten side in this year’s Bundesliga.

Bundesliga Fixtures (all times 1330 GMT unless stated)

Friday

Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen (1830)

Saturday

Freiburg v Mainz, Cologne v Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg v Stuttgart, Eintracht Frankfurt v Union Berlin, RB Leipzig v Bochum, Werder Bremen v Borussia Mönchengladbach (1630)

Sunday

Hertha Berlin v Hoffenheim (1530), Schalke v Augsburg (1730)

AFP

German Cabinet Increases Minimum Wage To $13.60 Per Hour

Germany Map

 

Germany’s cabinet on Wednesday approved an increase in the minimum wage to 12 euros ($13.60) per hour, a flagship election campaign promise of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats.

“Many citizens of our country work a lot but earn little — this must change,” Scholz said as he announced the decision on Twitter.

“For me, this is one of the most important laws and a question of respect,” he said.

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Minimum pay will rise to 10.45 euros per hour from 9.82 euros on July 1 and then to 12 euros on October 1. The increase will raise wages for about 6.2 million workers in Germany.

The change will especially benefit people working in the catering industry, service professions, warehouse logistics, and cleaners, according to Labour Minister Hubertus Heil.

“We are talking about people who kept the shop running during the pandemic,” he said.

The increase of the minimum wage was included in the coalition contract agreed between the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens, and the liberal FDP after September’s election.

The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) said the change would strengthen purchasing power in Europe’s biggest economy by around 4.8 billion euros per year.

But critics say it could fuel inflation, which had already soared to almost five percent in Germany by the end of 2021.

Joachim Rukwied, president of the German Farmers’ Association (DBV), told the Rheinische Post newspaper on Wednesday that the rise would “probably have a significant effect on food prices”.

The government has said it will especially benefit women and workers in the former East Germany.

The change must still be voted through in the Bundestag and Bundesrat lower and upper houses of parliament before becoming law.

AFP

Two German Police Officers Shot Dead During Traffic Check


Police block the access to the site where two police officers were shot dead in the early morning during a routine patrol in Kusel, Rhineland-Palatinate, western Germany on January 31, 2022.  Thomas Frey / dpa / AFP

 

Two German police officers were shot dead Monday after pulling over a car during a routine traffic stop, prompting police to launch a major manhunt.

The shooting happened at around 4:20 am in the Kusel district of western Rhineland-Palatinate state during a routine patrol.

A 24-year-old female police officer and her 29-year-old male colleague were killed.

“We are urgently searching for the fugitive perpetrators,” regional police said in a statement.

“At least one of the suspects is armed,” they warned, urging residents not to pick up hitchhikers.

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The police said they had no description of the vehicle and did not know the direction in which the suspects had fled.

Kaiserslautern city police said they had extended their search area to the neighbouring state of Saarland.

“Please do not pick up any hitchhikers in the Kusel district!” they tweeted.

Germany’s GdP police union expressed its “deep shock and sadness” over the shooting.

“Our thoughts are with the relatives and loved ones of the colleagues who died as a result of an act of violence in the line of duty,” GdP deputy chief Joerg Radek said.

AFP

Two German Police Officers Shot Dead During Traffic Check

German Flag

 

Two German police officers were shot dead Monday after pulling over a car during a routine traffic stop, prompting police to launch a major manhunt.

The shooting happened at around 4:20 am (0320 GMT) in the Kusel district of western Rhineland-Palatinate state during a routine patrol.

A 24-year-old female police officer and her 29-year-old male colleague were killed.

The young woman was still in police training, according to Rhineland-Palatinate Interior Minister Roger Lewentz.

“We are urgently searching for the fugitive perpetrators,” Westpfalz regional police said in a statement.

“At least one of the suspects is armed,” they warned, urging residents not to pick up hitchhikers.

The shooting occurred on a small country road surrounded by forests and fields, a regional police spokesman told Welt-TV.

The two officers managed to report that shots had been fired but radio contact was lost shortly afterward, he said.

Backup police then arrived at the scene and found one officer dead and the other fatally injured.

The police said they had no description of the assailants’ vehicle and did not know the direction in which the suspects had fled.

Kaiserslautern city police said they had extended their search area to the neighbouring state of Saarland, near the borders with France and Luxembourg.

“Please do not pick up any hitchhikers in the Kusel district!” they tweeted.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser likened the crime to an “execution” and said it showed “that police officers risk their lives every day for our security”.

“My thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of the victims. We will do everything possible to apprehend the perpetrators,” she said.

Police said the motive for the shooting remained unknown.

Germany’s Bild newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying the two officers had pulled over a “suspicious vehicle” and radioed in to say they had found dead game in the trunk, before shots were fired.

The female police officer’s gun was found still in its holster, according to Bild, suggesting she had not had time to open fire.

Her colleague managed to draw his weapon before being killed, Bild added.

Germany’s GdP police union expressed its “deep shock and sadness” over the shooting.

“Our thoughts are with the relatives and loved ones of the colleagues who died as a result of an act of violence in the line of duty,” GdP deputy chief Joerg Radek said.

The last time a police officer was killed on duty in Rhineland-Palatinate state was in 2010, when a special task force officer was shot dead by a Hells Angel biker during a raid.

German Lower League Match Abandoned Due To Racism

File photo used to illustrate this story.

 

A German third division match was abandoned on Sunday after a player from the visiting team was racially abused by a spectator.

The goalless match between hosts MSV Duisburg and VfL Osnabrueck was abandoned after half an hour by the referee due to hostility towards visiting forward Aaron Opoku.

“Opoku was racially insulted. Unbelievable. Aaron, we are behind you!!! NAZIS OUT!” tweeted VfL Osnabrueck on the club’s verified account.

The match referee Nicolas Winter told broadcaster MagentaSport “there was a Osnabrueck corner and monkey chants came from the stands”.

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Winter walked the teams off “to take care of the player” concerned because “I saw how shocked he was. I told him we were there to protect him.”

Winter said he will write a special report to the German Football Association, describing the incident as “quite dramatic in difficult times”.

The supporter concerned was identified and removed from the ground.

The host club apologised for the racist incident, “that is a No-Go”.

Duisburg’s press spokesman Martin Haltermann said the player targeted was “extremely upset, as is the whole (Osnabrueck) team”.

“The only chance we have is to apologise,” he added.

“This is a low point in our club history.”

Duisburg’s Twitter account confirmed the match had been abandoned because “VfL Osnabrück is no longer in a position to play. We fully understand. A bitter afternoon for football in #Duisburg!”

While the teams were off the pitch and before it was announced the match had been abandoned, the majority of home fans chanted “Nazis out!”.

The home club also played an anti-fascism song ‘Schrei nach Liebe’ (A Cry for Love) by Die Aerzte over the stadium tannoy.

AFP

New German Cabinet Under Scholz Sworn In At Parliament


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz takes the oath from President of the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) Baerbel Bas during a session at the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) in Berlin on December 8, 2021, to swear in the country’s next Chancellor. John MACDOUGALL / AFP

 

The new German cabinet under Chancellor Olaf Scholz was sworn into office on Wednesday in the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

The ministers from the new centre-left-led coalition of Social Democrats, ecologist Greens and liberal Free Democrats comprise Germany’s first gender-balanced cabinet, with eight women and eight men.

AFP

Israel’s Security Will Remain Germany’s Priority, Says Merkel On Farewell Tour

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech after receiving an honorary doctorate presented by Haifa’s Technion University President Uri Sivan during a ceremony held in Jerusalem on October 10, 2021. (Photo by Heidi Levine / POOL / AFP)

 

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel said Israel’s security will remain a top priority for “every German government”, during a farewell visit to the Jewish state Sunday near the end of her 16-year term in office.

Merkel, wearing funereal black, laid a wreath at Jerusalem’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, writing in the site’s guest book that visiting there “touches me at the core every time anew”.

“The crimes against the Jewish people that are documented here are a perpetual reminder of the responsibility we Germans bear, and a warning.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who hosted Merkel through the day, called her “a true friend of Israel”.

The German leader had earlier voiced confidence that whoever followed her as chancellor will feel equally committed to Israel’s security.

“Israel’s security will always be of central importance and a central topic for every German government,” she said.

It was “moving” that Israel had come to trust post-war Germany, but this “trust always has to prove itself,” she added.

Bennett credited Merkel with fostering an unprecedented bond between the countries and described her as “Europe’s moral compass” due to her support for Israel.

Merkel had initially planned to visit in August but delayed her trip during the chaotic exit of US and allied forces, including Germans, from Afghanistan.

‘Reality of apartheid’

The chancellor was not scheduled to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Under Merkel’s leadership, Germany has advocated for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but she has faced criticism from activists for not pressing Israel to end its military occupation of Palestinian territory that began in 1967.

“We may differ on whether there should be a two-state solution with the Palestinians,” she said, but stressed that both are united in the belief that there must always be “a democratic Jewish state of Israel”.

Bennett reaffirmed his opposition to a Palestinian state, asserting that it would “very likely become a terrorist state about seven minutes from my home”.

Instead, he said he was focused on improving economic conditions for Palestinians.

Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, criticised Merkel for regarding Israel’s 54-year occupation as “temporary”.

“Maintaining this fiction has allowed the Merkel government to avoid dealing with the reality of apartheid and persecution of millions of Palestinians,” he said in a statement.

Political scientist Peter Lintl at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs said Merkel had at times clashed with former premier Benjamin Netanyahu — in power from 2009 until June — over Israeli policy toward Palestinians.

But “she kept it mostly behind closed doors,” Lintl told AFP.

The emerging coalition to succeed Merkel, anchored by parties to the left of her Christian Democratic Union, may be “more critical and outspoken, regarding especially the issues in the West Bank,” he said.

‘Existential threat’

Germany and Israel forged strong diplomatic ties in the decades after World War II, with Berlin committed to the preservation of the Jewish state.

In a historic address in 2008, Merkel atoned for the Holocaust on behalf of the German people before the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, the son of a Holocaust survivor, tweeted Sunday: “Chancellor Merkel, there wasn’t one moment in your long tenure when you attempted to evade the memory of the Holocaust.”

Ex-premier Netanyahu repeatedly labelled Israel’s arch-foe Iran as the greatest threat to the Jewish people since the Holocaust, and Bennett on Sunday described the Islamic republic as an “existential” threat.

But Israel and Germany have diverged over a 2015 Iran nuclear deal that offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Israel opposes the deal and has criticised efforts by Germany, the United States and other signatories to revive it after former president Donald Trump’s withdrawal in 2018.

Speaking in Jerusalem, Merkel stood by Germany’s attempts to revive the deal, while stating that “Iran has not given any sign it wants to restart discussions”.

AFP

Dutch ATM Bomb Gang Blow Themselves Up

A file photo of an ATM card being inserted into a machine.

 

Dutch and German police have busted a criminal gang who made video tutorials on how to bomb cash machines, only to blow themselves up in the process, officials said Thursday.

One suspect was killed and another badly hurt in the Dutch city of Utrecht when a trial run went wrong at an illegal “training centre” for explosives attacks on ATMs, the EU’s police agency Europol said.

Police eventually made nine arrests during an 18-month operation targeting the gang, which is linked to at least 15 bombings on ATMs in Germany resulting in losses of 2.15 million euros ($2.5 million), it said.

“The criminals were making video tutorials which were given in person to other criminals,” a Europol spokeswoman told AFP.

“The main suspect — a 29-year-old — blew himself up when filming a tutorial video. His accomplice — a 24-year-old — was seriously injured and taken into custody,” she said.

READ ALSO: Five Jailed In ‘Horrific’ German Child Abuse Case

The explosion happened in September 2020.

The police hunt began after officers in Osnabruck, Germany, identified “suspicious orders” of ATM machines from a German company, said Europol and its sister judicial agency Eurojust in a joint statement.

Surveillance led police across the border to Utrecht in the Netherlands where the 29- and 24-year-old suspects were allegedly running the training centre.

“The pair was ordering different models of ATMs and recording tutorials on how to most effectively blow them up,” the EU agencies said.

“The cash machines were blown open using homemade explosive devices, posing a serious risk for residents and bystanders,” they added.

The two men were blown up “during one of the test runs of an explosion.”

Dutch police aided by Europol arrested three people during raids in the area around Utrecht, Amsterdam and The Hague on Tuesday, during which seven properties were also searched.

Those three suspects will be extradited to Germany. The other six people were arrested in the Netherlands during the past year.

Europol said that bomb attacks against ATMs were a “growing concern” in Europe.

AFP

Merkel Urges Vote For ‘Stable’ Germany As Election Looms

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during the last rally of the conservative Christian Democratic Union CDU and its Bavarian sister-party Christian Social Union CSU in Munich, southern Germany, on September 24, 2021, ahead of the German federal election on September 26. Thomas KIENZLE / AFP

 

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to elect her would-be successor Armin Laschet for the sake of German stability, in a strong pitch for her party as candidates made their final bid for support hours ahead of Sunday’s vote.

As hundreds of thousands of climate activists led by Greta Thunberg descended on streets across Germany to demand change and more protection for the environment, the outgoing Merkel acknowledged global warming was a major challenge.

But she said that protection was best achieved “not with bans and commands” but with technological progress, as she reminded voters that it mattered who led Europe’s biggest power.

In a strong appeal to a predominantly older electorate, Merkel said: “To keep Germany stable, Armin Laschet must become chancellor, and the CDU and CSU must be the strongest force.”

The candidate of Merkel’s CDU-CSU alliance, Laschet, 60, has been trailing his Social Democrat challenger Olaf Scholz in the race for the chancellery.

But final polls place Scholz’s SPD at 25 percent and Laschet’s conservatives at 22 percent, putting the gap between them well within the margin of error, making the vote one of the most unpredictable in recent years.

The Greens, polling in the mid-teens, were in third place, with a clear likelihood of being part of Germany’s next coalition government as a junior partner.

In the race for votes, Scholz, Germany’s current finance minister, said it was time for a “fresh start for Germany” after 16 years of Merkel at the top.

“We need a change of government and we want an SPD-led government,” he said.

Not Enough

But even the change promised by Scholz or the Greens was not enough, Thunberg told cheering Fridays for Future youth supporters outside the Reichstag parliament building, stressing that they needed to hold Germany’s political leaders to account past election day.

“It is clearer than ever that no political party is doing close to enough… not even their proposed commitments are close to being in line with what would be needed to fulfill the Paris Agreement” on curbing climate change, she said.

“Yes, we must vote, you must vote, but remember that voting only will not be enough. We must keep going into the streets.”

Organisers said the rallies had drawn 620,000 people to more than 470 cities and towns across the country.

“Climate is an important issue and if this continues things are going to get worse and worse,” 14-year-old Louise Herr told AFP at the Berlin protest.

Luisa Neubauer, the head of Fridays for Future’s German chapter, said the country, one of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases, had an outsize responsibility to set an example, with time running out to reverse destructive trends.

“That is why we are calling this the election of a century,” Neubauer told AFP.

The protest movement also hit out at Scholz, after he sent a tweet in support of Friday’s marches.

“We don’t want to spoil the good mood — but we are striking against YOUR government today, Olaf,” they wrote, referring to the SPD, which has been a junior coalition partner in three out of four Merkel governments.

Tailwinds

Around 60.4 million Germans are called to the polls on Sunday and most voters have cited climate protection among their top priorities.

While younger voters are leaning Green, under-30s only make up around 15 percent of the electorate while the above-60s make up 38 percent.

All three leading parties have said they aim to implement a climate protection agenda if elected, with the Greens presenting the most ambitious package of measures.

Greens chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock, who joined one of the Fridays for Future rallies in Cologne, told Die Welt newspaper that she hoped the protests would give her party “tailwinds” heading into the vote.

“The next government has to be a climate government — that will only work with a strong Green party,” she said.

Their central demand is to limit the warming of the Earth to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) as laid out in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

But critics have labelled the Greens a “prohibition party” that will drive up petrol, electricity and air ticket prices.

The ecologist party has advocated stopping coal energy usage by 2030 instead of the current 2038, and wants production of combustion engine cars to end from the same year.

It has slammed Merkel’s right-left government of paying only lip service to environmental protection, while seeking to maintain the status quo.

Hitting out against the transformation demanded by the Greens, Laschet on Friday instead appealed to the workers in Germany’s vital industries.

Germany must “still have a strong automobile industry, a steel industry, a chemical industry in 20 years,” he said.

“The world’s climate is not served if companies relocate, they will produce elsewhere under worse social conditions, under worse environmental conditions,” Laschet warned.

Five Jailed In ‘Horrific’ German Child Abuse Case

The main defendant (C) hides his face behind a folder as he arrives for his judgement in a child sex abuse case at court in Muenster, northwestern Germany, on July 6, 2021. – Four men were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for repeatedly sexually assaulting children and filming the abuse in a small garden house. (Photo by Guido Kirchner / POOL / AFP)

 

Four men received lengthy prison sentences in Germany on Tuesday for taking part in the repeated sexual assault of children and filming the abuse in a case that prompted reform of paedophilia laws.

A regional court in the western city of Muenster jailed the defendants for between 10 and 14 years followed by preventive detention.

The mother of the 28-year-old main defendant was convicted of aiding and abetting the abuse and sentenced to five years in prison.

Presiding judge Matthias Pheiler expressed shock at the “horrific events” covered in the trial, calling the video recordings “deeply disturbing”.

“The proceedings also clearly showed how paedophiles operate: they trick, they lie, they manipulate those around” the victims, he said, adding that he was repulsed to see that the defendants “grinned” and even “laughed loudly” while evidence against them was presented.

Pheiler said he was relieved none of the victims had had to testify in the trial.

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The principal defendant, a computer technician identified only as Adrian V., was found to have trapped boys in a garden shed in April 2020 along with several male accomplices, drugged them and raped them repeatedly over the course of three days.

One of the victims, now 11 years old, was the son of his girlfriend.

Prosecutors presented some 30 hours of video evidence, much of which had been shared in darknet forums. The other men, aged 31 to 43, are believed to have met Adrian V. online.

The chief defendant’s mother Carina V., who owns the shed, was found to have been aware of the abuse. The court heard that she had brought the men breakfast while they took turns assaulting the children.

– Tougher punishments’ –

Police are still screening evidence uncovered from the abuse in the shed and have used it to identify suspects across Germany and abroad.

Five men have already been convicted and sentenced in connection with the case and investigators have identified 50 suspects, of whom around 30 are in custody.

The current trial began last November and the sentences were broadly in line with what prosecutors had demanded.

It is just one of a series of gruesome child abuse cases to rock the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia over the last year, prompting a tightening of legislation.

In June 2020, investigators said they were probing some 30,000 suspects as part of an investigation into a large online paedophile network linked to the city of Bergisch Gladbach.

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

In response to the series of cases, the German parliament in March agreed tougher punishments for using and sharing child pornography.

The law also gives police and prosecutors broader powers to monitor online communication of suspects.

AFP

German Mother On Trial For Killing Five Of Her Children

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

A 28-year-old woman went on trial in Germany on Monday accused of smothering five of her six children in the bath, in what prosecutors called a particularly “malicious” case.

The accused, identified only as Christiane K., faces a life sentence if found guilty of the murders by the district court of Wuppertal in western Germany.

The bodies of her three daughters aged one, two and three, and two sons aged six and eight were discovered in the family flat in the city of Solingen on September 3, 2020.

They were found lying on their beds, each wrapped in a towel.

Prosecutors believe the mother mixed medication into the children’s breakfast drinks to make them sleepy, before drowning or smothering them in the bath.

The woman then attempted suicide by throwing herself in front of a train at Duesseldorf station, but she was rescued and did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

Her sixth child, an 11-year-old boy, survived the grim ordeal because he was in school.

Christiane K. claims she is innocent and says a masked man entered the flat and killed the children.

According to prosecutors, investigators have found no evidence to support that claim.

The motive for the killings remains unclear but prosecutor Heribert Kaune-Gebhardt said the suspect had shortly before had a row with her estranged husband about his new girlfriend.

Prosecutors have charged Christiane K. with “malicious murder”, saying she took advantage of the children’s innocence and defencelessness.

The family was known to social services but local authorities said there had been no indication at the time the children were in danger.

AFP

German Court Suspends Sentence For Man Who Spied For Egypt

Logo of a court gavel

 

A German who spied for Egypt while he was working in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s press office was handed a suspended prison sentence of one year and nine months, a Berlin court said Wednesday.

Egypt-born Amin K., 66, admitted to having exploited his privileged position in the office to pass on information to Egypt’s General Intelligence Service (GIS) between 2010 and 2019.

“The defendant pleaded guilty”, said a spokeswoman for the regional court of appeals in Berlin.

The sentence, which was handed down last week, was the result of an agreement reached between K.’s defence lawyers and the state prosecutors.

The 66-year-old had worked since 1999 for the visitor service of the federal press office, which among other things is responsible for communicating Merkel’s activities.

According to the charge sheet, he supported the intelligence services “on behalf of the Egyptian embassy” and had “largely conspiratorial” contact with his handlers.

He made observations about media coverage of Egypt-related domestic and foreign policy issues in Germany, as well as events such as a demonstration in Berlin in 2018 and a raid on a mosque whose imam had links to Egypt.

In 2014 and 2015, he also helped in a failed attempt to recruit a translator for the German parliament’s language service as another source and handed over the names of five Syrian-born colleagues at the press office.

Investigators did not find evidence that K. was paid directly for his espionage. He allegedly hoped to win preferential treatment from the Egyptian authorities and succeeded in securing help with his mother’s claim to her pension payments.

Appearing as a witness at the trial, K.’s former manager at the press office said the 66-year-old was only responsible for sending visitor’s programmes and would not have had access to any sensitive information.

“We simply could not have imagined that he was spying for Egypt,” he told the court.

The case came to light with the publication of a German intelligence service report in 2019.

According to the report, both the GIS and Egypt’s domestic intelligence service NSS are active in Germany.

Their main objective in the country is allegedly to gather information on dissident groups opposed to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.