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Refugee abuse trial opens in Germany

The refugee abuse scandal sent shock waves through Germany when it became public nearly four years ago. Now, 30 guards and workers at the asylum center face a host of charges. The trial of 30 people accused of abusing refugees at an asylum center in Germany started on Thursday in the western town of Siegen. It has been nearly four years since shocking images of abuse against refugees in the small western town of Burbach triggered widespread outrage. The abuse was captured on cellphone photos. One of the Burbach photos showed a security guard posing with his foot on the neck of a handcuffed refugee lying on the floor, while another showed a refugee being forced to lie on a mattress stained with vomit. Security guards also took the refugees to a "problem room" where they were allegedly imprisoned, beaten and robbed. At the time the photos became public, Police Chief Frank Richter from nearby Hagen said: "These are images of the kind we've seen from Guantanamo Bay." The 30 guards and workers at the asylum facility face charges that include grievous bodily harm, deprivation of liberty, coercion and theft. Following the scandal, operations at the refugee center were transferred from the social services company European Homecare to the German Red Cross.

The refugee abuse scandal sent shock waves through Germany when it became public nearly four years ago. Now, 30 guards and workers at the asylum center face a host of charges. The trial of 30 people accused of abusing refugees at an asylum center in Germany started on Thursday in the western town of Siegen. It has been nearly four ... Read More »

Deutsche Bank subpoenaed to provide Trump accounts’ data

Special counsel Robert Mueller has asked Deutsche Bank to share data on the US president's business dealings, as his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the US election widens. A person familiar with Mueller's investigation told the news agency Reuters on Tuesday that Germany's largest bank received a subpoena from the US special counsel several weeks ago to provide information on certain money and credit transactions, confirming a report by German daily Handelsblatt published on the same day. Read more: Donald Trump owes Deutsche Bank big bucks Deutsche Bank has loaned the Trump organization an estimated $300 million (€253 million) for its real estate dealings prior to Donald Trump becoming president. The lender said Tuesday it would not comment on any of its clients, adding that Deutsche Bank "always cooperates with investigating authorities in all countries." Mueller is investigating alleged Russian attempts to influence the 2016 US presidential election and potential collusion by Trump aides. Russia has denied meddling in the election and Trump has called the special counsel's investigation a "witch hunt." Dealings with Russia suspected In June, Deutsche Bank already rejected demands by US House Democrats to provide details of Trump's finances, saying sharing client data would be illegal unless it received a formal request to do so. Read more: Trump releases financial disclosure for 2016 Representative Maxine Waters of California and other Democrats have asked whether the bank's loans to Trump, made years before he ran for president, were in any way connected to Russia. Deutsche Bank faces questions about a series of so-called Russian mirror trades, in which it allegedly helped Russian clients move money out of the country. Those trades are being investigated in multiple probes in the US and Europe. The Mueller investigation now wants the bank to detail any ties between those trades or other Russian financing as it seeks to identify anyone connected to Donald Trump, his family or advisers. Read more: Russian tax authorities homing in on Deutsche Bank Trump's relationship with Deutsche Bank stretches back some two decades and the roughly $300 million he owes to the bank represents nearly half of his outstanding debt, according to a July 2016 analysis compiled by Bloomberg news agency. That figure includes a $170-million loan Trump took out to finish a hotel in Washington. He also has two mortgages against his Trump National Doral Miami resort and a loan against his tower in Chicago. An internal investigation carried out by Deutsche Bank didn't yield any evidence of connections between the client relationship with Trump and the bank's mirror trades affair, a person briefed on the matter said.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has asked Deutsche Bank to share data on the US president’s business dealings, as his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the US election widens. A person familiar with Mueller’s investigation told the news agency Reuters on Tuesday that Germany’s largest bank received a subpoena from the US special counsel several weeks ago to provide information ... Read More »

German police launch massive crackdown on Hells Angels group

Hundreds of police officers have moved to raid apartments and seize property of a Hells Angels' charter in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Concrete City biker club is said to include "proven criminals." The northwestern German state formally banned the Concrete City charter and its supporter club Clan 81 and launched a crackdown against the groups on Wednesday. Some 700 police officers were involved in the crackdown in over a dozen German cities, including Cologne, Wuppertal and Düsseldorf in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Special police units, experts on organized crime and people acquainted with the "biker scene" also took part in the effort. Read more: Hells Angels member charged in Frankfurt shooting NRW state Interior Minister Herbert Reul said that both "the purpose and the activity of the biker club and its supporters goes against the law." "The members of the club are proven criminals. Their everyday life consists of violence, weapons, drugs and forced prostitution," Reul said in a statement. Hells Angels were attempting to lay claim to "power and territory" in their turf wars with rival clubs, he added. "The state will not tolerate the growth of these parallel societies that disregard its authority and its monopoly on legitimate use of force," according to the minister. Bikers to oppose the ban The authorities have so far seized weapons, drugs, computers, and over 60,000 euro ($70,000) in cash belonging to the two groups, as well as bikers' "cuts" — the vests bearing symbols of their association. The police crackdown is expected to continue until Wednesday afternoon. The coordinated action has been unfolding "without any incident," a police spokesman said. Commenting on the raids, Hells Angels' lawyer Wolf Bonn accused the police of taking items which could not be considered evidence, including biker's watches, motorcycles, and even a bachelor thesis. "We are now trying to form a comprehensive picture of the measures and people affected, and we are looking into legal moves to oppose the ban," the lawyer said. Ensuring 'law and order' Violent clashes between biker factions and biker-related crimes are relatively common in Germany, which boasts over 70 Hells Angels charters. In NRW, members of the world's most famous motorcycle club have a history of bloody rivalry with the Bandidos, also an international biker association A leader of a Hells Angels faction, Aygün Mucuk, was gunned down in the clubhouse in Wettenberg a year ago. Earlier this year, around 40 Hells Angels members attempted to break through a police checkpoint in Cologne, allegedly to disrupt the birthday party for the local Bandidos leader. The police later raided the clubhouse, finding a firearm, a case of ammunition and a machete. Last month, four Hells Angels bikers went on trial in Leipzig over a 2016 murder of a biker from a rival gang. The Wednesday ban is part of a state-wide strategy of zero tolerance for biker gangs in NRW. "We are going to make sure that there are law and order in the entire North Rhine-Westphalia," Interior Minister Reul said. "This has nothing to do with this romanticized image of motorcycle riders. We are dealing with criminal organizations."

Hundreds of police officers have moved to raid apartments and seize property of a Hells Angels’ charter in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Concrete City biker club is said to include “proven criminals.” The northwestern German state formally banned the Concrete City charter and its supporter club Clan 81 and launched a crackdown against the groups on Wednesday. ... Read More »

Europol postcards tell Europe’s most wanted: ‘Wish you were here’

Police agency Europol has issued a series of sassy postcards telling criminals on the run that a special welcome is waiting for them back home. The mock-ups promote a 'Europe's Most Wanted 2017' summer campaign. The EU-wide policing agency Europol is hoping to track down some of the continent's most wanted criminals with the help of a bold summer campaign imploring villains to return home. The "friendly" postcard messages are mainly aimed at provoking a feeling of homesickness in individuals who have committed serious crimes in some 21 countries. Each postcard features one country's most-sought fugitive thought to be hiding in another country. Each appeals to that individual by their first name followed by a "wish you were here" message. Read: German police seek volunteers for facial recognition surveillance "Dear Artur, Belgian fries are the best and we know you miss them," says the postcard from police in Belgium. "Come back to enjoy them - we'll have a nice surprise in store for you." Hardest to catch Full information about each real-life miscreant, including a picture of them, is featured on the Europe's Most Wanted Fugitives website. "If you click on the website you can see the real picture and name of the criminal as well as a form that goes directly to the team in the country, for instance Belgium or Italy, that would follow it up," Europol spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth told DW. "The main goal of Europol is to arrest as many EU fugitives as possible. These are the ones that are hardest to catch, and there's a real need to catch them." Read: German police shortages 'threaten rule of law' Since the Hague-based policing organization launched the Europe's Most Wanted Fugitives website early in 2016, more than 2.5 million unique visitors have been to the website.

Police agency Europol has issued a series of sassy postcards telling criminals on the run that a special welcome is waiting for them back home. The mock-ups promote a ‘Europe’s Most Wanted 2017’ summer campaign. The EU-wide policing agency Europol is hoping to track down some of the continent’s most wanted criminals with the help of a bold summer campaign ... Read More »

Crimes at refugee homes on the rise, say German Criminal Police

Germany's Criminal Police Office has registered a growing number of crimes in refugee and asylum centers. Now the interior minister said he wants to keep track of crimes committed by and targeted at migrants. In an interview with the mass-market "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper, Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) President Holger Münch said offenses in accommodations for asylum seekers had increased "enormously" but still amounted to what he called a "relatively low" number of cases. People living in the accommodations, particularly many young men, have spent many months in a confined space and "under conditions that promote crime," he added. "Migrants, particularly from the Balkans or from North Africa - especially Moroccans, Tunisians and Algerians - commit criminal offenses," Münch said, adding that such cases were less frequent among Syrian and Iraqi immigrants. According to the BKA president, half of the offenses at the refugee homes were violent crimes, such as assault, but there was also an increasing number of sexual offences and homicides. Nevertheless, the number of cases is still "relatively low," Münch said, adding that the level of crime is not growing "as fast as the number of refugees" entering the country. Cologne sexual assaults Following reports of dozens of attacks on women at New Year's celebrations in Cologne, sexual assaults have become a main priority for BKA investigators, Münch told "Bild am Sonntag." Witnesses in front of the Cologne's main train station in the early hours of January 1 described many of the perpetrators as being of North African or Arab origin. "We're now analyzing whether there is a link between immigration and the sexual harassment of women in Germany," Münch said. At the same time, Münch rejected allegations that police had concealed the origin of offenders, reiterating that the nationality and residence status of suspects could be accessed on the BKA website. "It's our job to inform about a criminal situation objectively," Münch said. "That's why, at the minute we're working with the German states to provide an up to date picture of crime in the context of immigration." German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the "Welt am Sonntag" newspaper that he wanted officials to maintain a tally of crimes committed by migrants as well as criminal acts targeting them. Refugee debate Reports of the Cologne attacks have also renewed criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy on refugees and migrants, with some 1.1 million new asylum seekers registered in the last year alone. Thousands of Germans, particularly in Dusseldorf, a city near Cologne, have joined Facebook groups claiming to promote vigilante city patrols in response to the attacks. In Cologne on Monday, a group of six Pakistanis was also attacked by a gang of about 20 people, while a Syrian national was reportedly targeted in a separate attack by a group of five people. Fears over right-wing cells In light of the growing violence against refugees, Münch warned against vigilante groups and the emergence of right-wing terror cells, modeled after the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground. The police therefore "need rapid identification results and judgments in order to break the momentum of right-wing extremist offenses," Münch said. "Otherwise, in the worst case scenario, terrorist groups can form."

Germany’s Criminal Police Office has registered a growing number of crimes in refugee and asylum centers. Now the interior minister said he wants to keep track of crimes committed by and targeted at migrants. In an interview with the mass-market “Bild am Sonntag” newspaper, Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) President Holger Münch said offenses in accommodations for asylum seekers had ... Read More »

Explosion hits Chinese region for second day

A blast damaged a residential building in southern China a day after 17 mail bombs killed seven and wounded more than 50. Chinese authorities have ruled out terrorism, according to state media. The explosion caused damage to a six-story residential building in Liucheng, a county of the Guangxi region, early on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency reported. No injuries or deaths were immediately reported. Thursday also marks China's national day, the start of a week-long holiday during which many government offices and businesses close. The blast comes a day after 17 letter bombs killed seven people and wounded more that 50 in Liucheng county. The bombs targeted a hospital, market, shopping mall, a bus station and government offices, including a prison. Authorities said they have identified a 33-year-old suspect, but have not suggested a motive. On Wednesday, police said they were treating the blasts as a "criminal act" and not an act of terrorism. Small bombs are sometimes used by disgruntled citizens seeking to draw attention in what local media refer to as revenge attacks.

A blast damaged a residential building in southern China a day after 17 mail bombs killed seven and wounded more than 50. Chinese authorities have ruled out terrorism, according to state media. The explosion caused damage to a six-story residential building in Liucheng, a county of the Guangxi region, early on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency reported. No injuries ... Read More »

Gang violence kills scores of prison inmates in El Salvador

At least 14 inmates of an El Salvadorian prison have been killed in what authorities said appeared to be infighting between two factions of the feared Barrio gang. A state of emergency has been declared in the jail. The killings took place on Saturday at the Quezaltepeque jail, some 30 kilometers (30 miles) north of the capital, San Salvador. The prison authorities said the dead bodies were found in various parts of the correctional facility. A presidential spokesman told the AFP news agency that the prison violence was linked to an internal feud between two groups of the Barrio 18 gang. "There has been an internal confrontation," said Eugenio Chicas, the communications secretary for the presidency. According to a statement issued on Twitter by the Directorate General of Prisons, the killings were "presumed to be an act of purification among gang members." The jail authorities declared a state of emergency in the prison for 72 hours. Security has been beefed up in the prison as scores of people with relatives inside the jail are inquiring about the identities of the dead. The Quezaltepeque penitentiary held around 1,000 inmates, most of them members of the Barrio 18 gang. Increasing violence El Salvador is one of the most dangerous countries in Central America. The level of violence has increased in the country over the past year with the breakdown of a truce between the Barrio 18 gang and its rival, the Mara Salvatrucha. The gangs came to prominence in the 1980s in Los Angeles' Latino neighborhoods. At least 125 people were murdered in the country in just three days last week, the police said on Wednesday. Government statistics show at least 3,840 people have been killed so far this year in the country of 6.4 million people. President Sanchez Ceren has tried to crack down on criminal gangs since coming to power last year.

At least 14 inmates of an El Salvadorian prison have been killed in what authorities said appeared to be infighting between two factions of the feared Barrio gang. A state of emergency has been declared in the jail. The killings took place on Saturday at the Quezaltepeque jail, some 30 kilometers (30 miles) north of the capital, San Salvador. The ... Read More »

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