German police hunting serial killer who targets immigrants

 

GERMANY: German police are hunting for a serial killer who has murdered in broad daylight nine immigrant men, chosen apparently at random in cities around the country.

Despite a reward of €300,000 and dozens of tip-offs, investigators admit they are no closer to catching the man dubbed the "Kebab Killer" because of his targeting of small business owners.

So far he has left no fingerprints, no DNA evidence nor has he ever been seen by a witness.

What began as an apparently isolated murder of a Nuremberg flower shop owner six years ago has turned into a bloody series with all but one victim having a Turkish background.

There followed a tailor in Nuremburg, two greengrocers in Hamburg and Munich and, after a three-year break, a kebab shop owner in Rostock in 2004.

In June last year the killer struck twice, killing a kebab shop owner in Nuremberg and the Greek owner of a key-cutting shop in Munich.

In April this year he killed a kiosk owner in Dortmund and, most recently, an internet-cafe owner in Kassel.

That murder followed the killer's pattern perfectly. The Turkish-German internet cafe and call-shop owner, Halit (21), was waiting for his father to take over at the counter. A man walked into the shop, shot Halit in the face and body through a plastic bag using a Ceska 83 Czech handgun with a silencer, and walked out again.

Customers in the telephone cabins nearby heard nothing until Halit's father arrived minutes later and found his son dead in a pool of blood.

"Shooting through a plastic bag takes a lot of experience. He must have learned professionally how to use this weapon or trained in his spare time," said Wolfgang Geier, head of the "Bosphorous" special police commission investigating the murders.

Germany's leading criminal profiler, Alexander Horn, is now on the case, but the profile he has built up so far is woefully general: someone living in the Nuremberg area who has had bad experiences with immigrants and takes a risk by killing in the middle of a weekday in a shop where anyone could walk in.

"We're not looking for a lunatic," said Horn.

"One shouldn't picture the perpetrator as Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs. Once such perpetrators have been caught one usually says: 'that nice neighbour, I would never have imagined him doing something like that'."