German police seize second of two jail-breakers

2nd December 2009, Comments 0 comments

The two men escaped from prison in Aachen Thursday night, sparking a major manhunt with police in other European countries alerted.

Berlin -- Police commandos in Germany captured Tuesday the second of two "particularly brutal" armed men on the run since last week in a case that deeply embarrassed authorities over security lapses.

Officers seized Peter Paul Michalski, a 46-year-old sentenced to life for murder, "in an opportune place" in the western town of Schermbeck after a five-day manhunt, police said in a statement.

No one was injured in the arrest. It was not immediately clear whether authorities had received a tip-off from the public.

Michalski's accomplice Michael Heckhoff, 50, serving life for attempted murder, was snatched Sunday after a passer-by noticed a black BMW in a side street in Muelheim that the pair had stolen in the nearby western city of Essen.

The two escaped from prison in Aachen, around 125 kilometres (80 miles) from Muelheim, Thursday night, armed with two pistols and 16 rounds of ammunition, sparking a major manhunt with police in other European countries alerted.

Both men, described by Aachen police chief Klaus Oelze as "particularly brutal", were serving life sentences with no possibility of early release.

Michalski committed a series of bank robberies after absconding from parole in 1993. According to press reports, he murdered one of his two accomplices in woods by shooting him in the groin and then in the back.

Heckhoff was jailed for robbing a bank in 1991 and taking two police officers hostage.

A year later he and an accomplice took five people hostage during a visit to the dentist using a fake gun made out of soap and bread. Two nurses and a prison guard were doused in a flammable liquid and set on fire.

Police in Aachen detained a prison warder suspected of assisting in Thursday's escape. Reports said that the escapees made it through five locked doors before attacking a doorman and stealing the guns from a safe.

The case prompted negative headlines across Germany and uncomfortable questions about glaring security problems in the penal system.


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