German prosecutors charge bus attacker with attempted murder

Policemen secure a street where a public service bus stands, in Kuecknitz near Luebeck, northern Germany, after several people were injured in the bus, in an assault by a man wielding a knife on July 20, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2018
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German prosecutors charge bus attacker with attempted murder

  • German prosecutors are charging a 34-year-old man who attacked passengers on a crowded city bus with a knife in the northern town of Luebeck on Friday with attempted murder.
  • The suspect is also being charged with serious bodily harm and arson for trying to set the bus on fire.

BERLIN: German prosecutors are charging a 34-year-old man who attacked passengers on a crowded city bus with a knife in the northern town of Luebeck on Friday with attempted murder.
Luebeck prosecutors said in a statement Saturday they're also charging the German-Iranian dual citizen with serious bodily harm and arson for trying to set the bus on fire.
The suspect, who wasn't identified by name, was arrested at the scene and remains in custody.
Ten people were injured in the attack, three of them seriously, including a 21-year-old Dutchman who was operated on overnight.
Prosecutor Ulla Hingst said the suspect hasn't spoken to investigators and his motive remains unclear.
German news channel Spiegel TV quoted the man's father as saying his son, who lived locally, suffered from psychological problems.


Vladimir Putin gets lavish welcome on visit to ally Serbia

Updated 32 min 35 sec ago
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Vladimir Putin gets lavish welcome on visit to ally Serbia

  • Church bells tolled, guns saluted and people waved Russian and Serbian flags on Putin’s route through the Serbian capital, Belgrade
  • Serbia has maintained close links with traditional Slavic ally Russia despite formally seeking European Union membership

BELGRADE, Serbia: Vladimir Putin received a hero’s welcome in ally Serbia on Thursday as the Russian president attempted to maintain political and economic influence in the Balkans, which is increasingly looking Westward.
Putin’s presidential plane was escorted over Serbian airspace by MiG-29 fighter jets he recently donated to Serbia as he arrived for the one-day visit. Church bells tolled, guns saluted and people waved Russian and Serbian flags on Putin’s route through the Serbian capital, Belgrade.
Serbia has maintained close links with traditional Slavic ally Russia despite formally seeking European Union membership. It has refused to join Western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine and has pledged to stay out of NATO.
Putin has recently stepped up efforts to restore Moscow’s influence in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe.
Putin and his host, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, praised the relationship between the two countries. Putin handed a top Russian honor to Vucic, who gave a puppy of a Serb dog breed to the Russian president.
Vucic thanked Russia for its support for Serbia’s claim over Kosovo, a former province that declared independence in 2008, and added that “however small,” Serbia has been a “reliable partner” to Russia.
Several bilateral agreements were signed, including on the supply of Russian gas and weapons to Serbia.
On the gas, Putin said Russian companies are ready to invest about $1.4 billion into a stretch of a pipeline that would go from Turkey via EU-member Bulgaria to Serbia and then on to Hungary, “but in the end, everything will depend on other countries, including the European Union.”
Putin’s visit come as thousands have been holding weekly demonstrations against Vucic because of what they see as his autocratic rule.
Tens of thousands of Vucic’s right-wing party supporters were bused into the capital on Thursday to gather in front of the St. Sava Orthodox church, which the two presidents visited. They were chanting slogans including “Serbia-Russia, we don’t need the European Union!“
Vucic’s critics say the gathering was staged to suggest that the Serbian leader has many more supporters than opponents, who have been marching the same route since December to demand free elections and media.
Several liberal Serbian rights groups issued a statement on Thursday protesting “glorification of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.”
It said that Putin’s visit “indicates that the Serbian rulers are ready to sacrifice human rights and better living standards of citizens because of their servile attitude toward Putin’s regime.”
Russia’s interest in Serbia relates to its strategic position between East and West. Of Serbia’s eight neighbors, five are NATO members and two more are seeking membership; and four are in the EU and two more are working toward accession. Serbia remains Moscow’s only ally in the region.
Unlike NATO, Putin formally does not oppose Serbia’s EU path and analysts believe that this is because he wants a staunch ally — or perhaps a Trojan horse — within the 28-nation bloc.
Putin’s popularity in Serbia is mostly because the Kremlin is supporting Serbia in its rejection of Kosovo’s independence. In contrast, most Western countries have recognized Kosovo’s statehood.