France makes new arrests in €2 million German heist

French police investigating the armed robbery of over €2 million from a money transporter in Germany have arrested eight more people, sources close to the investigation said Wednesday.

France makes new arrests in €2 million German heist

The eight, detained on Tuesday and Wednesday, include the suspected brains of the operation, identified only as Gemal D., 58, who is known to police, the sources said.

Early in January, a team of five or more heavily armed people used explosives to attack an armoured money transporter in Sarrelouis in Germany close to the French border.

One of the transporter’s guards and a policeman were injured in the attack, which also involved gunfire.

The attackers fled in several vehicles and fired shots at German police during a car chase, a document seen by AFP said.

Gemal D. and three others were arrested in the southwestern region of Pyrenees-Orientales, and the others in northern France and the Paris region, they said. All were being questioned by anti-gang investigators.

One source said everybody connected to the robbery was now under arrest.

Ten other suspects have already been apprehended for their part in the heist.

Within hours of the attack, five suspects were arrested near Paris, including two well-known figures in the French gang underworld, a source said.

Abdelkrim Lho, 56, and Loic Deliere, 45, both have convictions for an attack on an armoured money transport in 2000 in which a guard was killed.

Five others, one of them a woman, were apprehended later in January and in February.

The robbers got away with €2.1 million, according to a German police estimate, of which 860,000 euros were recovered during the first waves of arrests.

The rest of the money is still missing.

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How politically motivated crimes are rising in Germany

Crimes with political motivations have risen in Germany according to police data, with cases of right-wing extremism making up the majority of crimes reported last year.

How politically motivated crimes are rising in Germany

Germany’s Criminal Police Office (BKA) registered 60,028 politically motivated crimes in 2023, the highest number recorded since records of this statistic began in 2001.

That’s almost two percent more politically motivated crimes than were recorded the previous year. But of those, 3,561 cases involved violence, which is approximately 12 percent less compared to 2022.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) presented the statistics this week. “We are seeing a new high in crimes directed against our open and free society,” she said according to Tagesschau. “We must show unequivocally that the rule of law does not accept this violence.”

Majority of political crimes classified as right-wing extremism 

With a total of 28,945 crimes, right-wing extremist-motivated cases made up the largest portion of political crimes in 2023 – up 23 percent from the year before.

There were 714 people recorded as being injured by right-wing extremist violence.

The President of the BKA, Holger Münch has previously emphasised that right-wing extremism remains the greatest threat to free democratic basic order in Germany.  

Although significantly less were recorded, left-wing extremist attacks also increased last year to 7,777 reported incidents.

Religiously motivated crimes increased by the biggest percent

Crimes registered as religiously motivated increased by the biggest proportion, up 203 percent from the previous year according to the BKA figures – to a total of 1,458.

The number of cases related to a foreign ideology also rose.

Anti-Semitic crimes also reached a new high last year with 5,164 offences being recorded (148 of these being acts of violence).

Conflict in the Middle East has certainly had an effect on domestic crime as well, with 4,369 crimes recorded as being connected. That figure is 70 times higher than the previous year, with more than half of them recorded after Hamas’ attack on October 7th. Of those, 1,927 were considered anti-Semitic by the BKA.

Public servants and asylum-seekers face increasing risk

The number of crimes against politicians and political volunteers also increased by 29 percent last year.

In recent weeks, a worrisome spike in both right- and left-wing attacks on politicians has been observed across Germany.

READ ALSO: Why are German politicians facing increasing attacks?

In her comments, Interior Minister Faeser warned that “a climate of violence” is being brought, especially by right-wing fringe groups.

Also motivated by right-wing ideologies were an increase in the number of attacks on asylum-seekers and refugees. Last year saw a significant increase in these attacks including 321 violent acts and 179 crimes against asylum accommodations registered.

Crimes targeting the “state” fell last year by 28 percent compared with 2022.

READ ALSO: Why experts say Germany’s rising crime rate is misleading