Two defendants killed in German courthouse shooting

Photo: Two defendants killed in German courthouse shooting / Other News

Two used-car dealers were shot dead Friday on the steps of a courthouse in the German city of Frankfurt, just before they were due to appear in court on attempted manslaughter charges, dpa reported.

The violence appeared to be the final act of a long-running feud among vehicle traders, prosecutors said. Police arrested the alleged assailant minutes later on a busy Frankfurt square. No one else was hurt.

The police said two men had been waiting outside a building entrance inside the court complex when a third man arrived at 8:45 am (0745 GMT), immediately pulled a gun and opened fire.

One victim, 45, died instantly, and his body was still lying on the stairs hour later as forensic experts gathered evidence. The assailant chased the other, 50, into the building, shot him and then stabbed him. The victim was rushed to hospital, but died of his wounds.

"The whole business happened in a space of seconds," detectives said later.

The alleged assailant, 47, dropped one of his guns and ran away, but was quickly seized by police on the nearby square, Konstable Wache.

Prosecutors said the men who died had been summoned to court for a retrial in connection with a knifing in a northern suburb in 2007 in which two further used-car dealers were wounded.

A 2008 trial had ended with an acquittal, with judges ruling it was possible they had acted in self-defence, but prosecutors then appealed and obtained a retrial on the attempted manslaughter charge.

Prosecutor could detial how Friday's assailant was associated with the 2007 violence.

A senior prosecutor told dpa that the prosecutor handling the case had been standing outside the courthouse smoking a cigarette when the first shot was fired as she looked on.

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Tags: shooting, Germany