Families of Slain Hostages File Criminal Charges against Police
BREMEN, West Germany (AP) _ Families of two teen-agers slain during last week’s two-day bank robbery and hostage drama have filed charges of criminal negligence against police, lawyers said Monday.
A week after the series of shootings and chases, the story continued to dominate West German news media. A debate on the incident was scheduled for Wednesday by the local government in Bremen, where gunmen Dieter Degowski and Hans-Juergen Roesner hijacked a city bus during the tense standoff.
Lawyers Bernd Rosenkranz and Gerold Bischoff said they filed charges on behalf of the families of hostages Emanuele di Giorgi, 15, and Silke Bischoff, 18. Silke was Gerold Bischoff’s niece.
″The charge is that of negligently causing death due to failure to give assistance,″ Rosenkranz said.
Under West German law, prosecutors must investigate the charges to decide whether a trial is warranted.
Rosenkranz said the di Giorgi family alleges further that police provoked the gunmen by detaining a female accomplice during the incident, which began Aug. 16 with a bank robbery and hostage-taking in the town of Gladbeck.
Degowski, 31, shot the Italian youth after police temporarily seized accomplice Marion Irma Loeblich at the Grundbergsee rest stop on the superhighway near Bremen. The boy died after trying to protect his 9-year-old sister from the bandits, according to witnesses.
The charge also says that police missed several opportunities to end the hostage drama, according to Rosenkranz.
After that shooting, Degowski, Ms. Loeblich and Roesner forced the bus to drive to the Netherlands early Thursday. There they freed most of their two dozen hostages and then drove back to West Germany with the two remaining hostages.
On Thursday afternoon, police ended the drama during a pitched battle on a busy highway near Bonn. Police captured both gunmen and Ms. Loeblich, 34.
Ms. Bischoff was killed in what authorities said was a shot fired by either Degowski or Roesner, 32.
Her uncle said he had filed charges of criminal negligence against police in Bremen and in the state of North-Rhine Westfalia.
It escalated into the bus hijacking in Bremen 135 miles to the northeast of Gladbeck after police met the gunmen’s demands for a getaway car.