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5th December 2019

In_pictures Daphne Caruana Galizia: Protests grip Malta as PM defies calls to quit

In_pictures Daphne Caruana Galizia: Protests grip Malta as PM defies calls to quit


in_pictures Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addresses a press conference after an urgent Cabinet meeting at the Auberge de Castille in Valletta, Malta November 29, 2019Image copyright

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Joseph Muscat has been in office six years

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has announced on national TV that he will step down in the new year, amid a crisis over a murdered journalist.

He said he would ask the ruling Labour Party to begin the process to choose his successor on 12 January.

Demonstrators have demanded his immediate resignation over the inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death.

She was killed by a car bomb in 2017 as she investigated corruption among Malta’s business and political elite.

A businessman with alleged links to government officials was charged with complicity in the murder on Saturday.

Explaining his decision to quit, Mr Muscat said of the way the murder inquiry had been handled: “Some decisions were good while others could have been better made.”

“All the responsibility I had to shoulder surely does not compare to the pain that the victim’s family is enduring,” he added.

In_pictures When will Muscat step down exactly?

He said he would resign as leader of the Labour Party on 12 January and as prime minister “in the days after”.

Mr Muscat has been in power for six years, winning two elections by a landslide and presiding over a period of prosperity and social reform in the EU’s smallest member state.

“Malta needs to start a new chapter and only I can give that signal,” Mr Muscat said.

He took the decision after a four-hour meeting with Labour’s parliamentary group, at which MPs gave “unanimous support to all decisions which the Prime Minister will be taking”.

In_pictures Why do protesters want Muscat to go now?

A large crowd of protesters earlier rallied in the capital Valletta to demand Mr Muscat’s immediate resignation.

Copies of a photo showing Mr Muscat’s former chief of staff, Keith Schembri, alongside Melvin Theuma, an alleged middleman in Caruana Galizia’s murder, were pinned to the gates of the building.

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Demonstrators filled Valletta’s streets

Fury over Mr Muscat’s handling of the crisis grew this weekend when businessman Yorgen Fenech was charged with complicity in the murder, an allegation he denies.

Mr Fenech was identified last year as being the owner of a mysterious Dubai-registered company, 17 Black, listed in the Panama Papers – a massive leak of documents from an offshore law firm in 2016.

There were allegations that 17 Black planned to make secret payments to companies set up by Mr Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.

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Media captionPaul Caruana Galizia says his mother’s critics investigated her murder

Both men resigned this week but deny any wrongdoing, and Mr Mizzi has denied any business links to Mr Fenech.

Three other men are in custody charged with Caruana Galizia’s actual murder, which involved a car bomb.

The murdered journalist’s family said the prime minister had been left deeply compromised and should resign because he had failed, for the past two years, to take action to clean up politics in Malta.

They argued that as long as he remained in place, a full investigation into Caruana Galizia’s death was not possible.

In another development, Mr Muscat’s Economy Minister, Chris Cardona, was reinstated on Sunday after suspending himself on Tuesday after he was questioned by police. He denies any wrongdoing.

In_pictures What do we know about the murder inquiry?

Three men – brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio and their friend Vincent Muscat, all in their 50s – have been charged with triggering the bomb which killed Caruana Galizia near her home in October 2017.

They were arrested in December 2017 and pleaded not guilty in pre-trial proceedings.

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Getty Images for the Daphne Project

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Caruana Galizia (pictured in 1989) was survived by her husband and children

Vincent Muscat later told police the bomb had been placed in Caruana Galizia’s car while it was parked outside the walled compound where she lived. The killings earned the trio 150,000 euros (£132,000), Reuters news agency reports.

5th December 2019

In_pictures Apple Store worker ‘texts himself customer’s intimate photo’

In_pictures Apple Store worker ‘texts himself customer’s intimate photo’


in_pictures The Apple logo at one of its storesImage copyright
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Apple says it immediately investigated the incident

An Apple Store employee allegedly texted himself an “extremely personal” photo of a woman from her phone after she took the device to be repaired.

Gloria Fuentes brought her phone to a shop in California last week, after removing some personal data from it.

However, she alleged via Facebook, an employee had found an intimate photo on the device and sent it to himself.

Apple said it had investigated the incident and the worker was no longer associated with the company.

In_pictures ‘Rush over’

Ms Fuentes’s story was first reported by the Washington Post.

She said she had made an effort to remove personal information, such as financial data, from her iPhone before taking the device in to be repaired.

“I was going to delete all the pictures from my phone too but forgot because they were texting me that they moved my appointment time up, so I was trying to rush over there,” she said via Facebook.

The employee who worked on her phone had spent “quite a while” with it and asked her for her passcode twice, she wrote.

In_pictures ‘Deeply concerning’

It was only when Ms Fuentes had returned home that, she said, she had realised her phone had been used to send a text to an unfamiliar number.

“This guy went through my gallery and sent himself one of my extremely personal pictures that I took for my boyfriend and it had my geolocation on, so he also knows where I live,” she said.

“I could not express how disgusted I felt and how long I cried after I saw this.”

Ms Fuentes said she had returned to the Apple Store but the employee in question had claimed he did not know how the text had been sent.

Apple said it was grateful to the customer for bringing the “deeply concerning situation” to its attention.

“Apple immediately launched an internal investigation and determined that the employee acted far outside the strict privacy guidelines to which we hold all Apple employees,” the company said in a statement to the Washington Post.

“He is no longer associated with our company,”

In her Facebook post, Ms Fuentes said she would press charges against the former employee.

5th December 2019

In_pictures Bedford homeless people’s photos go on display

In_pictures Bedford homeless people’s photos go on display


in_pictures 'Bobby The Robin' by DaveImage copyright

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Dave’s photograph ‘”Bobby the Robin” is being made into a Christmas card

Photographs taken with disposable cameras by homeless people are going on display so visitors can “see what people who live on the streets see”.

The exhibition at the Higgins Gallery, Bedford, will feature 58 photos.

Sam Price, Bedford’s homeless inter-agency officer, said the exhibition was to “showcase” the talent of rough sleepers and to “raise their confidence”.

In September 20 cameras were handed out and 17 came back, she said.

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The photos highlight an “old-school type of photography, lost in the digital age” said Sam Price

Donated by Fujifilm, they were available to rough sleepers, and people living in hostels, women’s refuges and temporary accommodation, who were briefed by Bedford Camera Club.

“I wanted the public to see what people who live on the streets see and to showcase their talent; to make them feel involved and part of something and to really raise their confidence and self-esteem,” said Mrs Price.

“I thought we would get blurry images, but we didn’t. It has just blown me away.

“People have seen them and have said ‘Wow, they are not just snaps, they are photographs’.”

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Sam Price

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Photos by Jason and Tom have appeared in the exhibition

Tom said he took part because “I adore photography”.

He added: “When I heard my photos had been selected it made my week. It feels really good to be appreciated.”

Jason, who took a photo of the John Bunyan boat said: “It sparked me to take my own photos whilst out and about.”

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None of the photos were edited, and were printed just as they were taken, said Sam Price

The “best” image, called “Bobby The Robin” and taken by Dave, is being made into a Christmas card, to be sold to raise funds for homelessness charities.

One hundred of them, with stamps on, would be put in places frequented by rough sleepers, so they can send a card home to friends or family over Christmas, Mrs Price said.

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Some of the artwork will also feature in a calendar

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Homeless people were asked to take a photo of whatever they wanted during one week in September

The free exhibition runs from 3 December to 29 March.

5th December 2019

In_pictures Birmingham revenge porn victim had strangers arrive at home

In_pictures Birmingham revenge porn victim had strangers arrive at home


in_pictures Revenge porn victim

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Revenge porn victim Sharon said she felt “destroyed” by her partner’s actions

A mother had nude pictures and her address posted on sex websites by her partner, leading to a dozen strangers arriving at her house on one night.

Builder Darren Rowe, 49, took secret images and spread intimate content without her knowledge using a phone connected to a customer’s wifi, a West Midlands Police probe found.

The victim said men arrived at her Birmingham home saying they had spoken to her online and been invited.

Rowe received a suspended sentence.

Mother-of-three Sharon, who wanted to protect her full identity, said she felt destroyed by a person she had worshipped.

“You don’t expect the man that you love, who says he loves you, to try and destroy you,” she said.

In_pictures ‘Everything changes’

Rowe, from Rowley Regis, admitted two counts of disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress.

Last month he was given a 12-month jail term, which was suspended for two years, at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Sharon said she was “disgusted” by what she feels is a lenient punishment.

She initially sobbed on the floor “like a baby” thinking it was all for nothing, but came to feel some sort of closure.

“His name is out there now. Now people know who he is and what he does,” she said.

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West Midlands Police

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Darren Rowe admitted disclosing private sexual photographs with intent to cause distress

Describing the moment she saw herself on various sex sites, Sharon said: “In that second everything changes. The life that you had has gone.

“You’ve got to get your head around the fact that potentially thousands of people have seen those pictures of you.

“One night 12 men came to the door. I was with my three-month-old baby at the time. Another time someone tried to get in the house.”

She said as many as 35 men turned up at her doorstep over a four-month period during the summer of 2017.

Latest news from the West Midlands

The 39-year-old said her partner had initially convinced her the images had been posted by a friend pretending to be her.

“When police did their investigations I found out it was my partner at the time who had been uploading pictures from a customer’s house,” she added.

“I wasn’t aware he had the pictures or that he’d taken them. He was very, very devious. I didn’t have a clue any of these pictures were there.”

Sharon, who is no longer with Rowe, has never been given an explanation over his intentions or received an apology.

“The police think he wanted to play the hero, whereas I think he had certain fetishes, which I’m not interested in,” she said.

Sharon, a customer service assistant, said she had been unable to take down some of the nude images two years on.

“Only Darren can remove them. He knows what sites they have been uploaded to. The police don’t have the authority to do it,” she said.

PC Lee Newell, of West Bromwich CID, said it had been a “long and complex case”.

“Our investigations revealed that the only person linked to an email address used to transmit the material was in fact Rowe,” he said.

“His victim has suffered a distressing onslaught of online abuse.”

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

3rd December 2019

In_pictures Africa’s top shots: 1-7 November 2019

In_pictures Africa’s top shots: 1-7 November 2019


A selection of photos from across Africa and of Africans elsewhere this week:

in_pictures England's wing Anthony Watson (C) is tackled during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final match between England and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on November 2, 2019.Image copyright
Getty Images

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On Saturday South Africa’s national rugby team, in green, tackle their way through to victory against England…

in_pictures South Africa's flanker Pieter-Steph Du Toit (C) lifts the Webb Ellis Cup as they celebrate winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final match between England and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on November 2, 2019.Image copyright
Getty Images

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…to win the rugby world cup 32-12.

in_pictures In this handout image provided by World Rugby Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex congratulates Faf de Klerk of South Africa following his teamI

3rd December 2019

In_pictures Ethiopia violence: Facebook to blame, says runner Gebrselassie

In_pictures Ethiopia violence: Facebook to blame, says runner Gebrselassie


in_pictures Oromo youth chant slogans during a protest in-front of Jawar MohammedÕs houseImage copyright

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The accusations against the government sparked a lot of anger amongst Oromo youths

Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie has told the BBC that fake news shared on Facebook was behind violence in which 78 people died.

Trouble was sparked when an influential activist from the Oromo ethnic group, Jawar Mohammed said the authorities were endangering his life by removing his bodyguards.

The violence had ethnic and religious elements, the government said.

Gebrselassie said he could sue Facebook if they fail to remove certain posts.

The double Olympic champion was not explicit about which posts he was referring to, but told the BBC in the capital Addis Ababa that “fake news is easy to spread”.

Referring to the death toll, the 46-year-old added that “the main cause I believe was Facebook”.

in_pictures Haile Gebrselassie


I know my people, they don’t do such awful things”

Days of violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, which saw some people sheltering in churches, followed the accusations made on Facebook by Mr Jawar.

The police initially denied that it put his life in danger, but Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed later indicated that the police had acted incorrectly.

Graphic images, purporting to show the results of the trouble, began to circulate on social media.

Gebrselassie said he thought the pictures were not of Ethiopians. “I know my people, they don’t do such awful things,” he said.

In_pictures ‘Ethiopia should be careful’

Some fake videos had been shared, including one of a claim that a local official was arming young men, the BBC’s Kalkidan Yibeltal in Addis Ababa says.

Despite calls by the Nobel Peace Prize winning prime minister for unity, ethnic tensions are threatening to spill out of control.

Gebrselassie, who is now a successful businessman, warned that Ethiopia has “to be careful” saying that the genocide in Rwanda was not that long ago.

He also mentioned the conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen as examples of what could happen if things get out of hand.

The authorities have arrested more than 400 people in connection with October’s violence and the trouble has subsided.

Facebook has not responded to Gebrselassie’s accusations, but the company has a policy of “working to fight the spread of false news”.

2nd December 2019

In_pictures Dirk Schlegel and Falko Götz: The East Berlin footballers who fled from the Stasi

In_pictures Dirk Schlegel and Falko Götz: The East Berlin footballers who fled from the Stasi


in_pictures BBC Sport Insight banner

in_pictures Götz (left) and Schlegel (right) picture in 1984 - a year after what Schlegel calls their "great adventure"

Götz (left) and Schlegel (right) pictured in 1984 – a year after what Schlegel calls their “great adventure”

Dirk Schlegel and Falko Götz had been friends for years by the time they decided to risk everything.

They had grown up together, two football-obsessed kids from the same side of a divided Berlin. They lived close to the wall that had defined their city since it was built in 1961. Their world as children was divided into good and bad, west and east, capitalist imperialism and communist utopia. They both knew not to mention the western TV they secretly watched at home.

Schlegel and Götz rose through the same Dynamo Berlin youth teams. They were part of a sporting organisation embraced tightly by the Stasi – East Germany’s brutal and invasive secret police. Erich Mielke, the infamous Stasi leader, was Dynamo’s honorary president.

The two players had something else in common. In the eyes of the state, neither could be fully be trusted.

“We both had problems with the authorities and with Dynamo because our history was the same,” Schlegel says.

“He had family in West Germany and I had an aunt in England. That kind of thing was not good for our future. There was suspicion. But it was better for our friendship.”

Götz made his senior debut for Dynamo in 1979, at the age of 17. Schlegel made his two years later, aged 20.

The two friends broke into their country’s strongest team, despite difficult years in the youth academy. They say they were often wilfully overlooked, and their parents were told it would not be correct politically to see them rewarded – not with their background.

But their talent was impossible to ignore. As they developed, both players also began to appear for East Germany’s national youth teams. As athletes, they were part of a very select number of citizens who travelled abroad – always under close scrutiny.

The Stasi monitored every aspect of East German daily life, gathering intelligence through a network of informers – and informers who informed on the informers. Some estimates suggest it employed one in every 63 people. The structure was sophisticated, bold, all-powerful. The purpose was to keep order: to further the Communist cause. Football also played its role.

Mielke believed Dynamo should become the most successful side in East Germany. They won the league a record 10 consecutive times between 1979 and 1988. There were often accusations of officials giving them preferential treatment, and – as Schlegel recalls – opposition fans hugely resented their victories.

While playing for East Germany’s Under-21s in Sweden, Götz began to seriously consider an alternative.

“As I started to play regularly for Dynamo’s first team, and internationally too, I began to understand more about what a career in football could mean,” he says.

“I had to then ask myself the question: Where do I want it to take me? Do I want to play all the time in East Germany with a club that doesn’t offer the best treatment? That from one day to the next could say, ‘thank you but now because of who you are, football stops’?”

Schlegel was having similar thoughts, brought to a head by the experience of playing abroad in May 1982 at a youth competition in France.

By the summer of 1983, the friends had decided. They had to get out of East Germany. And they had a plan. But they would have to be careful.

You couldn’t just talk anywhere, not about something like this. Schlegel and Götz did a lot of walking – just the two of them. They would go off for hours in the forest. It was the only safe place.

“We discussed it,” says Schlegel. “Could we do this big thing? It was not so easy.

“We had to think about the Stasi and the other people in our club. It was a big secret for me and Falko – no-one else.”

As champions of East Germany, Dynamo would qualify each year for the European Cup. In those days, the competition featured a straight knockout format – home and away in each round. The best Dynamo achieved was reaching the quarter-finals in 1980, when they lost to eventual winners Nottingham Forest.

The first idea was to try to escape wherever the competition might take them that season – 1983-84. The draw was kind.

In the first round came Jeunesse Esch – champions of Luxembourg. It was an easy tie that would guarantee another chance to escape if the opportunity didn’t present itself. And they had a friend who they thought might be able to help.

The first leg was at home. Götz opened the scoring in a 4-1 victory. The second leg was on 28 September 1983.

Their friend had recently been granted permission to move to West Germany – there was an official process by which it was difficult, but not impossible, to legally emigrate – and was living close to the border with Luxembourg.

They had considered the possibility of getting him to meet them and whisk them away in his car, but the timing was off. The friend wouldn’t be able to help – he still hadn’t received his full identification papers and so couldn’t travel across the border into Luxembourg from his new home in West Germany.

Still, Götz and Schlegel thought there might be a chance.

Götz pictured in Dynamo Berlin kit as a 17-year-old in 1979, the year of his senior debut

In private, Götz told his father about their intentions. All he said was there was a possibility he would be leaving for good – sometime soon. He was 21 at the time. Schlegel, then aged 22, did not say a word to anyone – not even his mum and dad.

The match was played in Esch-sur-Alzette, right on the border with France. Belgium was only another 10km to the west and West Germany about half an hour’s drive to the east. Götz and Schlegel were on the lookout for anything they could take advantage of. Any moment of quiet or confusion that might allow them to slip away.

“It just wasn’t possible,” Schlegel says. “We had no opportunity at all.

“Everywhere we went – to the hotel, to lunch, to training, to the stadium – we were all together, accompanied by a lot of our ‘friends’ from the Stasi. We had even flown there in Erich Mielke’s private plane. It wasn’t an ordinary tourist trip. It was simply too dangerous for us.”

Dynamo won 2-0, and the players returned to Berlin. Just days after discussing the possibility of not seeing him again, Götz’s father welcomed his son home.

They would have another chance very soon.

Dynamo were next drawn against Partizan Belgrade – the champions of what was then Yugoslavia. This was even better.

In Luxembourg security was tight, but this would be different. Yugoslavia was a fellow Communist country, though not in the Eastern Bloc of states officially allied with the Soviet Union, like East Germany. Surely it would be considered low risk?

Again, Dynamo were at home in the first leg. Again, Götz scored the opener – in the first minute. It finished 2-0 to the East Germans. Bring on the return fixture – in Belgrade.

At about midday on the day of the match – 2 November 1983 – the team travelled together by bus into the centre of Yugoslavia’s capital city.

As they pulled up, a member of Dynamo’s staff rose out of his seat and told the players: “You have one hour free time. We meet back here at 13:00.”

Schlegel and Götz were sitting on opposite sides of the bus.

Schlegel (right) made his Dynamo debut two years later than Götz, in 1981

“We didn’t talk; we only looked each other in the eyes,” says Schlegel. “We realised it was the moment. And we knew how dangerous it was going to be.”

As their team-mates filed off, Schlegel and Götz had still not spoken. They said nothing of the risk they were taking, nothing of the gravity of this one pivotal moment in a life’s course.

“I remember we were angry about all the moments we’d already tried to get away but couldn’t,” Götz says. “On the first day after training it was too risky, the same thing next morning after breakfast. There were too many people around.

“But now in these few seconds we were totally clear on what had to happen. We had everything in our pockets. Papers, a little money. One view of it was enough – this was our chance. Now or never.”

The clock was ticking. The rest of the Dynamo squad wanted to spend the hour shopping. Götz and Schlegel tagged along. Their first stop was a record store close by.

As the two went in, Götz spotted something to the side of the building – a slightly hidden entrance and exit, separate to where they had come in. He and Schlegel gave nothing away.

“We tried to stay very close to each other,” Götz says. “All the guys around us were buying used records for their families.

“The one special moment was when we saw the door. We saw there was a way you can get out of the shop without anybody noticing. When the time was right, that’s when we said: ‘Let’s go.'”

They steadily peeled away from the larger group. They made sure they weren’t being watched. They moved to the door, then went through it. And ran.

“Once we’d made it outside, you’re not really thinking about anything,” Götz says. “We were only thinking about running. To quickly get as far away from our team as possible.

“We ran for about five minutes in one direction. Then we saw a taxi. We got in but then there was a panic because he didn’t want to take us to the West German embassy.

“We had to hail a second cab. As we got in I gave the driver 10 Deutschmarks. He must have driven us about one kilometre – it probably would have been easier to go by foot.

“We looked back to see if anyone had followed us. We couldn’t see anybody.”

Half an hour earlier, they had been sitting with their team-mates. Now they were inside the West German embassy, talking to staff about what they should do next.

“We were incredibly nervous,” says Schlegel. “It was just very incredible what we’d done. Suddenly we were discussing a plan to get us out of Yugoslavia and into West Germany. We were coming up with a schedule for our lives.”

The plan began to take shape. First they would be driven to Zagreb, about four hours away. The embassy staff thought it best to get them out of the building – and out of Belgrade – as quickly as possible. The embassy would be the first place the authorities would come looking.

As their car emerged from the underground car park, the players were sitting in the back seats.

“On the way, the deepest thinking was only about surviving this situation,” says Götz.

“You are afraid something might happen because you made the first step in a big story. That is why the biggest emotion is just to live through it. That you can do it, you have to do it. Because in something like this, when the end is not good you will have a lot of trouble. A lot of trouble.”

In Zagreb, the plan was finalised. At the West German consulate there, Götz and Schlegel were given false papers – two new West German identities to help get them out of Yugoslavia.

Staff told them that driving out, across the Yugoslav border with Austria, would normally cause no issues. But things were a little different that week, they said, and it wasn’t totally safe. The pair never got a full explanation but it was decided it would be best to go by train. They were to say they had been on holiday, had lost their passports and had to get new ones, and were on their way ‘home’ to Munich.

The advice was to travel on the night train from Ljubljana. It would leave at midnight, and they should arrive as close to departure as possible. It was now about 6pm – they had been on the run for six hours.

They were given some food. The staff seemed relaxed – this had been done before, and they were calm and confident of the plan’s success. To some extent, this succeeded in soothing the pair’s worries. But still, the level of danger they faced was hard to ignore.

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The BBC reports from the scene as the Berlin Wall goes up

Back in Berlin, Götz’s father tuned in to watch Partizan v Dynamo. The broadcast began at 7pm. Kick-off was 8pm. His son wasn’t in the starting XI. Strange – he was one of their best players. Schlegel was missing too, and neither were even on the bench. No explanation was given, but he knew. It must have happened. Had they been successful? Or had they been caught?

There was one final hurdle to clear.

Schlegel and Götz were driven to Ljubljana. They arrived at the station just before their train was set to depart, tickets in hand, the owners of new identities. Schlegel’s name was Norman Meier. Götz can’t recall who he was supposed to be.

The train set off. There were about 30 kilometres to cover before it would arrive at the border and Yugoslav customs.

Then the train halted.

In the half light, sitting up in their sleeping compartment, the pair could hear the taps on doors.

They could hear the approaching sound of heavy boots, the guard dogs panting and the jangle of their chains.

“We were both so incredibly nervous but the policeman looked at our documents and said ‘OK, fine’ and left. It was maybe 20 seconds,” Götz says.

“It was so easy. It was nothing.

“For the whole day, we had existed in this state of high tension, where in your mind you are always worried.

“We didn’t know what we had started. We didn’t know what kind of dangers we might face. But when we got past the Austrian side and the train hadn’t been stopped to get the two footballers off, we knew we were safe.

“I think we arrived in Munich at about 6am. I can’t believe it today, but we even slept a couple of hours.”

In the newspaper stands around the station that morning, their names were already in the press. The headlines read: ‘East German players escape to West.’

But the story wasn’t quite over. There would be consequences.

The West German diplomatic staff who arranged their false papers had given Schlegel and Götz instructions on what to do. They were to travel to Giessen, where there was a facility that processed refugees.

They arrived late in the afternoon. It was about 7pm by the time either could make a phone call home. Schlegel rang his mum.

“She was a little bit worried,” he says.

“It was a big surprise. She knew nothing of our plans but she had heard about our escape from reports on West German TV. I said it was all OK, that I was safe and that was it. We knew the Stasi would be listening.”

Götz also rang home.

“My parents directly gave me word to say they were not alone,” he says.

“It was: ‘OK fine, you are OK, good, we talk later.’ Because when something like this happens, you know the authorities are in reaction mode.”

Both players realised they would have to be very careful.

“When a player from Dynamo Berlin leaves the club, he is not a good boy,” Schlegel says.

“Falko and I had decided that in all interviews we should not talk at all about politics, not about any criticisms of the East, to only talk about football. It would not have been safe – for us or our families.

“We knew that the Stasi also have a lot of people in the West too. That there were people watching us. Spies.”

Götz and Schlegel called upon Jorg Berger, a former East Germany youth coach who had fled to the west in 1979.

Berger helped arrange contact with prospective new clubs. They chose to sign for Bayer Leverkusen, but would have to wait a year to make their debuts – Dynamo Berlin would not acknowledge the move. Fifa’s 12-month playing ban was seen as a compromise to smooth over their illegal transfer.

At the time, Berger was manager of KSV Hessen Kassel, then in the West German second tier. Before he died in 2010 at the age of 65 after suffering from cancer, he wrote an autobiography in which he claimed he was targeted for assassination in the 1980s, that he was poisoned by a Stasi agent.

Berger also spoke several times about Lutz Eigendorf, a former Dynamo player who defected to the west on the way back from a match in Kaiserslautern in 1979. He had been especially vocal in his criticisms of East Germany after defection.

In March 1983, eight months before Schlegel and Götz arrived secretly in Munich, Eigendorf died in a car crash. Berger believed the accident showed the signs of a Stasi operation – where the driver of a vehicle would be blinded by a bright light while driving at high speed. Tests showed alcohol in Eigendorf’s blood, but his friends said he had not been drinking before getting into his car.

Schlegel (far right) and Götz (third from left) pictured in their debut season for Leverkusen, 1984-85

Götz and Schlegel had made it to the Bundesliga. They trained with Leverkusen, they settled into their new surroundings, but their old lives were never far behind. They were being watched very closely.

“That’s why the Stasi was so famous – for what they did,” says Götz.

“They watched us in Leverkusen, and they followed my parents all day long. Not in secret, they wanted them to see. There were interviews, interrogations, pressure. When I was able to access my files at the Stasi archives, when they were made available after German reunification, I found things that I would now rather not talk about.

“But for me at that time, it was important not to say that everything in East Germany is bad, that communists are bad, not only because I knew what the reaction to this would be but also because it wasn’t.

“My time in Dynamo made a very good player of me. I had 12 years at the club. They helped me start a professional career. Our motivation was not politics.”

As the Cold War thawed towards the end of the 1980s, both players were able to keep up more regular contact with their families, while also contributing on the pitch after their suspensions expired. That they would appear every Saturday night on the Bundesliga highlights programmes – still watched secretly in so many East Berlin homes – was a source of great pride for their parents.

Götz stayed at Leverkusen until 1988. After winning the Uefa Cup, he left to join Cologne.

Schlegel left Leverkusen in 1985 and had a season with Stuttgart before signing for Blau-Weiss Berlin in 1986. He now lived on the west side of the city where he was born. But of course, he could never cross to the other side.

He only managed to see his mum and dad again in 1987, in Czechoslovakia. For Götz it was the summer of 1988, in Hungary.

Then came 9 November 1989.

Schlegel was in a hotel with his team-mates when he heard the news. He’d just got back from training when someone shouted over from the bar: “Hey Dirk, the wall has come down.”

He thought it was a joke – for at least five minutes he wouldn’t believe it, even after he’d seen the TV pictures, the thousands of smiling East Germans walking through checkpoints, past the barbed wire, past the spotlights, past the stunned border officials. What now exactly?

“I said: ‘Oh come on! The wall came down and I was not in Berlin!’ We could hardly have been further away in Germany too – we were playing an away match against Schalke,” says Schlegel.

“That was just a crazy experience for me; it was unthinkable. Watching it, I thought maybe it’s a drama or a movie. It was something unbelievable.

“On the weekend, I came back from the game at Schalke and my family finally came over to visit me with two friends. We had dinner at home, talking, drinking.”

It wasn’t until December that Götz returned to the East side of Berlin for the first time since he and Schlegel had left with their Dynamo team-mates in 1983. He went back home – “nothing had changed, it was exactly the same” – and spent time with his family during that season’s winter break. His mother could finally pass on the few belongings she had been able to hide and keep safe for him.

Thirty years on, Schlegel, 58, and Götz, 57 are still close friends.

They enjoy looking back on their daring feat and speak regularly – usually by phone as Götz still lives on the other side of the country.

“My son is very proud,” says Schlegel as we talk at a cafe near his west Berlin home.

Now he has to go. He and Götz are employed as scouts; work is calling.

I don’t even have to ask the final question.

“I have been asked on many occasions,” Schlegel says. “Would I do it again?

“Absolutely. Without question. Every time. I did it for my life. It was about setting up my future, shaping my life, choosing my own path.”

Schlegel was a youth coach with Hertha for several years – here celebrating A-Juniors Club Cup victory in 2004
Götz (right) was Hertha’s manager from 2004 to 2007. Pictured here in 2006, his assistant (left) is ex-Celtic player Andreas Thom – who made his European debut for Dynamo on the night Götz and Schlegel fled
Two women walk along Sebastianstrasse, along which the Berlin Wall once ran, in October 2019. The photo underneath shows the same location in 1963

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Archive: Brian Hanrahan reports on the rapid developments that led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall

2nd December 2019

In_pictures Hong Kong protests: Aftermath of Polytechnic University siege

In_pictures Hong Kong protests: Aftermath of Polytechnic University siege


Images from inside Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University show the aftermath of a week-long standoff between protesters and police.

On Tuesday, university officials spent hours searching for anyone left. The fight for control of the Polytechnic University has been one of the defining moments of nearly six months of anti-government protests in the territory.

Protesters barricaded themselves inside the campus almost two weeks ago. The authorities responded by sealing off the campus, trapping more than 1,000 inside. Over the past week, most protesters have either surrendered or escaped.

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in_pictures Belongings are left on a basketball courtImage copyright

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A team including university management, security guards, councillors and the Hong Kong Red Cross walk through a canteen in search of any remaining protesters who may be hiding.

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in_pictures A team walk though a canteen kitchen at PolyUImage copyright

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Food was left cooking on a hob in the canteen kitchen.

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in_pictures Food left cooking on a hob is seen in the canteen kitchen at the Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityImage copyright

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Activists – some armed with bows and arrows – engaged in intense battles with the police during the siege. Other items found during the search included, below, a Molotov cocktail and a hammer left on the roof of a university building.

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in_pictures A Molotov cocktail and a hammer left on the roof of a university buildingImage copyright

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A disparate collection of items were found discarded inside buildings on the campus. Here, clothes could be seen strewn all over a bathroom floor.

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in_pictures Clothes are discarded in university bathroomsImage copyright

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Other items left behind by protesters included face masks…

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in_pictures Face masks are left on a tableImage copyright

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…helmets and food left in one room…

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in_pictures Belongings such as helmets and food are left in a roomImage copyright

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…and other belongings left in a dorm.

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in_pictures Belongings left in a dorm room in Hong Kong PolytechnicImage copyright

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Officials found only one woman lying exhausted on a couch, who refused to leave. Others might be in hiding, but it is thought unlikely that anyone else remains.

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in_pictures A shattered window at Poly UImage copyright

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All pictures subject to copyright.

2nd December 2019

In_pictures ‘We failed to reach Europe – now our families disown us’

In_pictures ‘We failed to reach Europe – now our families disown us’


in_pictures Jamilatu and Fatmata

Most of the West African migrants who fail to reach Europe eventually return to their own countries, but it can be a bitter homecoming. In Sierra Leone, returnees are often rejected by relatives and friends. They’re seen as failures, and many stole from their families to pay for their journey.

In_pictures Some readers will find this story disturbing

Fatmata breaks into sobs when she remembers the six months she spent in slavery as the “wife” of a Tuareg nomad who seized her in the Sahara desert.

“They call him Ahmed. He was so huge and so wicked,” she says. “He said, ‘You are a slave, you are black. You people are from hell.’ He told me when somebody has a slave, you can do whatever you want to do. Not only him. Sometimes he would tell his friend, ‘You can have a taste of anything inside my house.’ They tortured me every day.”

That was only the beginning of the horrors Fatmata, aged 28, from Freetown, Sierra Leone, experienced as she tried to cross West Africa to the Mediterranean. She eventually escaped from Ahmed, but was recaptured by traffickers who held her in their own private jail in Algeria.

After she and other migrants broke out, Fatmata, deeply traumatised, decided to abandon her dreams of a new life in Europe – and go back to where she started. She applied to an intergovernmental agency, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which pays the fares for migrants who want to return home.

Last December, she arrived back in Freetown, by bus from Mali – after nearly two years away. But there were no emotional reunions, no welcomes, no embraces. Nearly a year later, Fatmata hasn’t even seen her mother – or the daughter, now eight, she left behind.

“I was so happy to come back,” she says. “But I wish I had not.”

In_pictures Find out more

Listen to Sierra Leone – the price of going home on Assignment, on the BBC World Service

When she got back, she called her brother. But his reaction terrified her. “He told me, ‘You should not even have come home. You should just die where you went, because you didn’t bring anything back home.'”

After that, she says, “I didn’t have the heart to go and see my mother.”

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Fatmata thought she’d be able to pay back the money she stole

But her family didn’t reject her just because she was a failure. It was also because of how she funded her journey.

She stole 25 million leones – about US $2,600 at today’s exchange rate, but then worth a lot more – from her aunt. It was money her aunt had given her to buy clothes, that could then be resold as part of her trading business. Her aunt regularly trusted her in that way.

“I was only thinking how to get the money and go,” Fatmata says, though she adds that she’s not a selfish person. “If I had succeeded in going to Europe, I decided that I would triple the money, I would take good care of my aunt and my mum.”

But Fatmata’s aunt’s business never recovered from the loss of the money. And – to make things even worse – the theft has caused a rift between the aunt and her sister, Fatmata’s mother, whom she falsely accuses of being in on Fatmata’s plan.

“I’m in pain, serious pain!” her mother says, when I visit her. “The day I set eyes on Fatmata, she will end up in the police station – and I will die.”

It’s a story that’s repeated in the families of many of the 3,000 or so Sierra Leoneans who have returned in the last two years after failing to reach Europe.

At one time, relatives often raised the money to send someone, but there’s less willingness to do that now that stories of imprisonment and death along the route have multiplied. Now, many would-be migrants keep their plans secret, and take whatever money they can, sometimes even selling the title deeds to the family land.

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Jamilatu stole money which had been lent to her mother

At the headquarters of the Advocacy Network Against Irregular Migration, a voluntary group that helps returned migrants rebuild their lives, all the returnees I meet have stolen from their families.

Jamilatu, aged 21, who escaped with Fatmata from the traffickers’ prison in Algeria, took a plastic bag of cash worth $3,500 from her mother’s room when she was out of the house. The money didn’t even belong to her mother. It had all been lent to her by neighbours, as part of a microcredit scheme.

After Jamilatu left, the furious creditors besieged her mother’s house, threatening to kill her if she didn’t return the money. She was forced to flee Freetown for Bo, three hours away in the south of the country, leaving her three other children behind with their father.

“My mum doesn’t want to talk to me, because of the money,” Jamilatu says. “So since I came back, I haven’t seen her. And I want to see my mum – it’s over two years now that I’m not seeing her.”

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Jamilatu has been estranged from her mother for more than two years

I visit her mother, Maryatu, at her new home in Bo, and after a long conversation she says she would like to see Jamilatu again, despite the suffering she’s caused.

But when they meet, soon afterwards, it’s a short, awkward and almost silent reunion. They embrace stiffly. Then Jamilatu kneels in front of her, asking for forgiveness. Neither looks the other in the eye.

Afterwards, Jamilatu goes straight back to Freetown.

“I am the happiest woman on Earth today because I have seen my mum,” she says. But she doesn’t look happy. Her mother has told her they can’t live under the same roof again until Jamilatu has raised the money to repay the creditors.

It’s hard to see how that will be possible. Jamilatu, like Fatmata, has no job. They both depend on support from Advocacy Network Against Irregular Migration. The group was founded by Sheku Bangura, himself a returned migrant, who lobbies the Sierra Leonean government to do more for returnees – currently there’s very little official support – and tries to give practical help himself. He finds accommodation for those who are homeless, intervenes with the police if returnees get into trouble, and organises basic psychological counselling.

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Sheku Bangura has personal experience of the challenges faced by returnees

“I have had a lot of migrants who have mental problems,” he says. “These young people, they are on the streets, they don’t have place to sleep. It’s not really easy for them.”

One of those helping out at the Advocacy Network is 31-year-old Alimamy, who set out across the Sahara three years ago, after stealing and selling an expensive water-packaging machine belonging to his uncle.

One of his two travelling companions died of starvation in the desert. The second drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean in a dinghy. Alimamy ended up in a Libyan detention camp. He was only rescued in November 2017 when the IOM began organising flights from Tripoli to West Africa for those who wanted to go home.

Emaciated and exhausted, he accepted the offer of a ticket, but he was terrified of the reception he would get. “I was thinking I should not come back to Sierra Leone, because I know my uncle has a very high temper,” he says.

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Alimamy’s attempt to reach Europe ended in a Libyan migration detention centre

Since returning, Alimamy has lived with friends. His elder brother, Sheik Umar, a former professional footballer, says: “We are hearing he is in Freetown, he is suffering. And yet he hasn’t got the guts to face any of us in the family.”

Sheik Umar says he used to be close to his brother, but if he sees him now, he will ensure he is “arrested, prosecuted and convicted”.

“If he dies in prison, I will not have any regrets, I am sure no family members will have regret, because of the shame he has put on all of us.”

He says the water-packaging business Alimamy had been entrusted to run by his uncle could have generated enough money to support the whole family.

“But he misused that opportunity and all of us are in this mess now… Wherever I go now, people taunt me. Our mother is sick, she has moved to a village. That (business) was the beginning of our hopes. But Alimamy has shattered all of that.”

Alimamy himself is angry and frustrated. “I have come back home, no impact, just like I’m zero,” he says. “The place where I am living, it’s like a hell for me. The way people look at me, I don’t feel happy. They’re looking at me like I’m not human.”

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Sheik Umar says his family has suffered as a result of Alimamy’s actions

The IOM offers migrants who return voluntarily to their home countries in Africa “re-integration allowances” worth up to 1,500 euros (£1,270). The money comes from a 347m-euro fund financed mainly by the European Union. But the allowances aren’t paid in cash. If they were, most people would just use them to repay their relatives. So the IOM pays for goods or services that applicants can prove they need to set up a specific business.

Alimamy got an allowance to buy a motorcycle to rent out to other drivers to use as a taxi. But after just four months, one of the drivers went off with it and never came back. Alimamy himself had become a victim of theft.

As for Fatmata and Jamilatu, they never received an allowance because they returned from Mali at a time when some other Sierra Leoneans were abusing the system by catching a bus to Mali, pretending they’d returned from across the Sahara, and claiming the allowance. So everyone returning from Mali lost out, including Fatmata and Jamilatu.

Now, all three returnees take part in “awareness-raising” events organised by the Advocacy Network. They go out on the streets with placards and loudspeakers to warn other young people of the dangers of illegal migration, and urge them to stay in “sweet Sierra Leone”.

But for them, home is no longer sweet. All three are consumed by feelings of worthlessness.

Fatmata says: “I have nothing to offer, I have nothing to show. I can’t even go and see my daughter, I only see the pictures, because I have nothing to give her when I get there, so I can’t.”

Alimamy says the “stigmatisation” he suffers is forcing him to do the opposite of what he says on the streets. He wants to make another attempt to reach Europe.

“Staying here is like a hell for me,” he says. I remind him of the horrors he experienced on his first attempt, being enslaved, imprisoned, and seeing friends die.

“Well,” he says, “I have been through that, and I’m sure I could cope.”

In_pictures You may also be interested in:

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READ: Crossing the Channel by boat is risky – we came by lorry

1st December 2019

In_pictures French official ‘drugged women to watch them urinate’

In_pictures French official ‘drugged women to watch them urinate’


in_pictures A colonnade in the garden of the Palais-Royal, ParisImage copyright
Getty Images

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France’s Ministry of Culture is based at the Palais-Royal in Paris

A senior official in the French Ministry of Culture has been charged with drugging women with diuretics in order to watch them urinate.

French judicial sources said the man was accused of sexual assault and drugs offences involving more than 200 women.

The offences are said to have happened when the women attended job interviews at the ministry between 2009 and 2018.

The official is also accused of taking secret pictures of the women’s legs under the desk using his mobile phone.

French newspaper Libération quoted five women (in French) who said they were offered tea or coffee during the interviews and then taken on walking tours of heritage sites near the ministry in Paris.

When they became overcome with a desire to urinate, the man took them to the embankment of the River Seine and offered to shield them with his coat while they relieved themselves beneath a bridge.

“I urinated on the floor, almost at his feet. I was humiliated and ashamed,” one said.

One of the women said she was admitted to hospital with a urinary tract infection following the encounter.

Libération said the official kept a log of the incidents on an Excel spreadsheet.

The case came to light when a woman caught the official photographing her legs under the desk and reported him to his superiors.

The ministry reported him to the police, who found details on his computer of the women he had targeted. He was suspended in October 2018 and fired three months later when an investigation was opened by the Paris prosecutor’s office, Libération reported.

The police investigation revealed that the women’s drinks had been spiked with a powerful diuretic, AFP news agency said.

French Culture Minister Franck Riester told Europe 1 radio that he was “floored” by the “crazy case of a pervert”.

The culture ministry said it began disciplinary proceedings as soon as it was told of the man’s actions, but two of the women quoted by Libération said they had made complaints that had gone unheeded.

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