German reward offer to stop 'schnapps spiker': report
The head of a Berlin Christmas market is offering a reward to stop a serial poisoner after 10 people fell ill from unwittingly drinking spiked schnapps, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
Charles Blume, 38, chief of the central Alexanderplatz holiday market, has put up 1,000 euros ($1,319) as an early Christmas gift for the capture of the suspected spiker, the mass-circulation Bild said.
"The man wearing a Santa costume poisoned a 15-year-old. Whoever catches him gets the money from me, immediately," the newspaper quoted him as saying.
The man, who police describe as tall, blond and in his mid-40s, approached his victims at different markets over the last week offering, in most cases, small bottles of schnapps and asking them to toast the birth of his new baby.
In at least one instance he was wearing a Santa costume, police said.
Afterwards they became nauseated, vomited, in some cases lost consciousness and needed hospital treatment.
Christmas markets selling seasonal fare such as mulled wine, grilled sausages and gingerbread cookies are a long-held German tradition as a meeting place for locals and tourists.
Bild highlighted other problems that have hit various Christmas markets in recent years, including threatened Islamic extremist attacks and the discovery of 500-kilo (1,100-pound) bomb from World War II in central Berlin forcing an evacuation.
© 2011 AFP