German car attack suspect ordered kept in detention

The Berliner Platz square in Bottrop, western Germany, where a man in a car intentionally hit a group of people during the New Year’s Eve. (Roland Weihrauch /dpa/AFP/File)
Updated 02 January 2019
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German car attack suspect ordered kept in detention

  • The attacks began shortly after midnight on Jan.1, first in Bottrop in western Germany
  • The victims included a 46-year-old Syrian woman who suffered life-threatening injuries

BERLIN: A German man who repeatedly drove into crowds and injured eight people in apparent intentional attacks against foreigners has been ordered kept in detention pending possible charges, police said Wednesday.
The attacks began shortly after midnight on Jan.1, first in Bottrop in western Germany and later in the nearby city of Essen. The 50-year-old suspect, who comes from Essen, is believed to have no previous police record.
The victims included a 46-year-old Syrian woman who suffered life-threatening injuries.
Police said a judge on Tuesday night ordered the suspect held in detention while the investigation on suspicion of attempted murder continues.
They say the suspect made anti-foreigner comments during his arrest and there were indications he had been treated for mental illness in the past.
The attacks came after four teenagers from Afghanistan, Syria and Iran were arrested on suspicion of bodily harm following assaults on passers-by near the railway station in the southeastern town of Amberg on Saturday. The four were apparently intoxicated and 12 people were hurt, in most cases slightly.
There was no indication of any link between the events, other than that both underlined tensions in Germany over migration.
German government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said Wednesday the government had learned “with dismay” of both the assaults and the attacks.
“There is no place in Germany for extremism, xenophobia and intolerance, no matter what side it comes from,” she told reporters.
The Amberg incident prompted Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to tell the Bild daily that “if asylum-seekers carry out violent crimes, they must leave our country.” He said, if necessary, laws should be changed to make that possible.


Hungary hits Soros, Juncker in new media campaign

Updated 20 February 2019
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Hungary hits Soros, Juncker in new media campaign

  • The campaign provoked a furious reaction from prominent EU politicians
  • EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as "fake news"

BUDAPEST: Hungary launched a new anti-immigration media campaign on Tuesday in which it accused George Soros and EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker of allegedly supporting illegal migration, but which Brussels immediately dismissed as "fake news".
According to the Hungarian government's Facebook page, the media blitz — funded with taxpayers' money — is expected to include billboard posters featuring images of the liberal US billionaire Soros and a smiling Juncker above the words: "You too have a right to know what Brussels is preparing".
"They want to bring in the mandatory settlement quota; weaken member states' rights to border defence; facilitate immigration with a migrant visa," it continues.
The campaign provoked a furious reaction from prominent EU politicians, including from Joseph Daul, president of the European People's Party grouping which includes both Juncker and right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party.
In a series of tweets, Daul condemned the campaign, calling its claims "deceitful, misleading and... not based on facts".
Daul denounced Hungary's attacks on Juncker and defended him as a "true Christian Democrat and a real European leader".
He went on to remind Hungary that "decisions in Brussels, including on migration, are taken collectively by EU governments" and the European Parliament, both of which include Hungarian representatives.
The presence of Fidesz within the EPP has long been a source of controversy but there have been no official moves by any of the other centre-right parties in the grouping to expel it.
Orban's government, which has frequently clashed with the EU on migration, has regularly undertaken similar campaigns in the past, including "Let's Stop Brussels" and "Don't let Soros have the last laugh."
In recent years, Orban has blasted the Hungarian-born 88-year-old philanthropist and investor as a "public enemy" for allegedly backing uncontrolled mass immigration.
At the same time, Orban's government has frequently been accused of using anti-Semitic tropes and imagery in its campaigns against Soros, claims it denies.
In recent months, pro-Orban media have also attacked Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini — the author of a critical report about Hungary that formed the basis of EU legal action against Budapest -- and Juncker's deputy Frans Timmermans.
"Brussels continues to want to support illegal immigration," Zoltan Kovacs, a government spokesman, told reporters in Budapest on Tuesday.
"Hungarians need to know about this, that's why the latest information campaign has been launched," he said, denying it is part of the upcoming European Parliament election campaign.
Kovacs said plans in "drawers in Brussels" included hikes in financial funding of NGOs and the creation of a special migration fund.
EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as "fake news".
"The Hungary government campaign beggars belief," he told a briefing in Brussels.
"It is shocking that such a ludicrous conspiracy theory has reached the mainstream to the extent it has. There is no conspiracy. Hungarians deserve facts, not fiction," he said.