New Murder Charges Filed in German Dark Web Forum Case
In connection with the so-called “Munich massacre,” the Mannheim public prosecutor’s office has charged the alleged owner and operator of a German dark web forum with nine counts of negligent murder and five counts of negligent assault. These charges are being pursued alongside the previously filed 29 counts of intentional illicit drug trafficking and four counts of illegal drug possession.
According to the Mannheim public prosecutor’s office, a 31-year-old from the German city of Karlsruhe created and operated a German dark web forum called “Germany in the Deep web” (known as “Deutschland im Deep Web” officially). The man had allegedly created the forum in 2013 and continued operating it until the Summer of 2017 when German law enforcement raided the IT student’s apartment, seized the server that had been hosting Germany in the Deep web, and arrested the man for narcotics charges connected to operating the dark web forum. The public prosecutor’s office charged the man with 29 counts of intentional illicit drug trafficking and four cases of drug possession. None of the charges reflected crimes committed by the gun vendors who used the forum or the 18-year-old who had purchased a gun from a vendor on the forum to kill nine people in Munich.
The case took an unexpected turn earlier this year when the police released him from custody as they believed he posed no threat to the community or flight risk. The case stalled pending developments that the Mannheim public prosecutor’s office kept to themselves, a branch of the public prosecutor’s office dedicated to targeting cybercrime, and the Attorney General’s Office in Karlsruhe. Then, perhaps to the surprise of the defendant, authorities reversed their previous decision regarding his pre-trial freedom and remanded him to police custody. Police arrested the 31-year-old on August 9, 2018 on an entirely new set of charges.
Like the convicted Glock vendor who had provided the Munich gunman with a Glock and ammunition, the 31-year-old alleged forum owner had committed more crimes than those previously announced by German officials. The Glock vendor—who had been using Germany in the Deep web as a platform to sell Glocks and ammunition—landed in police custody after investigators had discovered where the 18-year-old Munich gunman had purchased his weapon. Officials charged the vendor with illegally selling firearms and other crimes connected to violating weapon laws. Months later, after the vendor had admitted his role in the distribution of the Glock used in the shooting in Munich, German officials reopened his case and charged him in connection with the deaths of the nine who had died during the massacre. A court later sentenced himagain after months of hearings.
The Mannheim public prosecutor’s office released a statement that accused the suspected forum owner of enabling the gunman to purchase a Glock and ammunition. The statement also said that as an operator of an anonymous hidden service with the slogan “no control, everything allowed,” the man should have recognized that an illegal and uncontrolled firearm market would allow “unstable persons” to purchase weapons and kill people. And, since the man “could have recognized” that his forum enabled criminals to murder potentially innocent victims, the Mannheim public prosecutor’s office announced that they hold him responsible—in part—for the deaths that occured at the “Munich massacre.” They charged him with nine counts of negligent murder in connection with the nine deaths in Munich. The Glock vendor received the same charge. In connection with the murders that occurred on that day in Munich, the Mannheim public prosecutor’s office added five counts of negligent assault.
The announcement contained not only new charges connected to murder and assault but also an assortment of charges that stemmed from operation of a forum that allowed members to sell firearms. For general forum operation, the Mannheim public prosecutor’s office added 17 counts of aiding and abetting the deliberate unlawful use of a firearm. And for more specific transactions, the public prosecutor’s office added nine counts of the deliberate unauthorized acquisition of a firearm and eight counts of the deliberate unauthorized acquisition of a semi-automatic short weapon.
According to the announcement, the new charges came as a result of further investigations conducted by the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Mannheim Public Prosecutor’s Office’s Cyber Crime Department.