Posts tagged ‘crime’

September 27, 2010

Shock and awe: Understanding the Lörrach massacre

NOBODY EVER THOUGHT IT COULD happen here – but then again, nobody ever does. Lörrach is one of Germany’s most picturesque towns, located as it is in the extreme southwestern corner of the former Grand Duchy of Baden on the hilly Swiss and French borders. It is known for its ruined castles, fine wines, spectacular scenery – and, since last weekend, for a particularly bloody and senseless triple murder…

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August 21, 2010

Bold as bronze: Art thieves strike in broad daylight

IT SEEMS THAT TO be an art thief these days, you don’t need brains. Boldness will do the trick just as well. That’s what the guards at an exhibition in the Belgian town of Bruges learned on Wednesday. As reported by the Belgian press yesterday, a man entered an exhibit of works by Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalì on the Belfried or city tower on the town’s Grand Market in broad daylight and made off with a fifty centimetre high and ten kilo heavy bronze statue. The figure was not equipped with an alarm. It seems that the two guards on duty were also in charge of selling tickets. Museum officials suspect that one of the thieves kept them distracted while the others popped the figure in a bag and headed for the door. The exhibition’s organizers place the value of “La Femme aux tiroirs” at 100,000 Euros ($127,000). The Bruges police hope…

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June 7, 2010

Does religion make people violent? A sociologist says yes

WE ALL SUSPECT THERE’S a connection between religiosity and violence, but a German criminologist recently decided to find out once and for all. The results of his survey, entitled Religion, Integration and Delinquency Among Young People in Germany, which he published over the weekend, are likely to pour new gasoline on an already raging controversy.

Professor Christian Pfeiffer, a social psychologist and former justice minister in the regional government in Hanover, is currently serving as the director of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony. After evaluating a survey on religious attitudes and violent behavior conducted among 45,000 students of both genders (including 10,000 from immigrant backgrounds) between the ages of fourteen and sixteen at German schools, Pfeiffer discovered that the more religious young, male Muslim immigrants are, the less well-integrated and more violent they become. He found that “very religious” Muslim immigrant youths were the most violent, at a rate of 23.5 percent…

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May 8, 2010

Catholic Bishop Walter Mixa inherits the wind

GERMAN BISHOP WALTER MIXA probably hoped his worries were at an end when he finally submitted his resignation to the Pope on April 21 of this year. In fact, they’re only just beginning. The reactionary and egregiously controversial bishop of Augsburg, who quit under fire for alleged beatings and financial malfeasance at a juvenile center in the Bavarian town of Schrobenhausen, had already generated lurid headlines earlier this year when he blamed the Catholic Church’s spiraling pedophile scandal on “the so-called sexual revolution.” But it seems that this alleged revolution of personal morality also took a toll on Mixa himself, because as of today the public prosecutor in the Bavarian town of Ingolstadt is formally accusing Mixa of sexually exploiting an underage altar boy. And this time the paper trail leads all the way back to Pope Benedict XVI…

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April 30, 2010

Notorious Bavarian school assassin gets nine years in prison

Would-be school assassin Georg R. at his sentencing in Ansbach today

IT WAS GOING TO be the crime of the century. 18-year-old Georg R. had studied previous school massacres, particularly Columbine and Germany’s Erfurt bloodbath of 2002, in detail. All he wondered was: “Why not wipe out the entire school?” His plan: burn his high school to the ground, “roast children,” and kill as many teachers – “these maggots,” as he called them – in the process. He himself would die in a glorious shower of police bullets and become a media legend, inspiring similar assaults in the future. If Georg ultimately failed in this project, it was not due to poor planning on his part but to the efficiency of the German police.

Georg planned his deed down to the smallest detail…

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March 8, 2010

Berlin meets the Mob

IT’S THE KIND OF story you would sooner expect to find in the pages of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale than in the local section of Berlin’s daily newspapers. Last Saturday afternoon, between four and seven masked men armed with revolvers and at least one machete stormed Berlin’s Grand Hyatt Hotel on Potsdamer Platz during a high-stakes poker game. They went straight for the cashier and filled their sacks with up to € 250,000 in cash. A brief panic ensued and several guests were slightly injured. “I was sitting at the table when suddenly the crowd jumped to their feet,” one young player told journalists. “Everybody started running, but nobody knew what was going on.”…

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September 20, 2009

Death of a hero: The murder of Dominik Brunner

Dominik Brunnen, 1959-2009

Dominik Brunnen, 1959-2009

THE TERM “HERO” HAS been so grievously overused in recent years that we would all be hard-pressed to come up with a comprehensible definition for it. Nowadays it seems as if all you need to become a hero is just to be a passive victim of a terrorist act, or else to meet your end while wearing any sort of uniform (provided you’re fighting for the right side, that is).

But I think everyone can agree that on September 12, 2009 a businessman died and a hero was born. On that day, towards evening, Dominik Brunner, a fifty year-old senior manager of a brick company in Neufahrn in Lower Bavaria, boarded a suburban train on his way to his second home in the town of Solln near Munich. At the Donnersbergerbrücke station, four young teenagers – two girls and two boys – came on board with two older boys in hot pursuit. The younger kids had been on their way to what promised to be a fun evening at a bowling center when Markus Sch. and Sebastian L. (aged seventeen and eighteen) approached them on the station platform and demanded fifteen Euros from them. They continued their harangue in the train and threatened violence if the younger kids didn’t shell out the money.

At this point, Brunner stood up and told the older kids to lay off. He then comforted the four teenagers and said he would ride with them to Solln station and make sure they got off safely. However, the two young men remained aggressive, and so two stations before Solln Brunner alarmed the police via cell phone. When they arrived in Solln, however, the older kids followed Brunner and his four charges off the train and onto the platform. And there, according to one of the children, one of the thugs “went ballistic.” …

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