Berlin police investigate Christmas market poisonings | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 13.12.2011
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Berlin police investigate Christmas market poisonings

Police in Berlin are investigating a further three reports of revelers falling victim to spiked drinks at the city's Christmas markets. At least 10 people have fallen ill in the past week.

woman drinking glass of Glühwein

Visitors to Berlin's Christmas market remain vigilant

Police in Berlin are investigating a further three reports of people falling victim to spiked drinks at the city's Christmas markets after accepting free schnapps or mulled wine from a man dressed as Santa.

At least 10 people have fallen ill since last Wednesday.

Charles Blume, the head of one of the city's Christmas markets, said Tuesday he was offering a reward of 1,000 euros ($ 1,300) to stop the serial poisoner, according to the mass circulation daily Bild newspaper.

"Whoever catches the man gets the money from me - immediately," Blume said.

In the most recent incident on Monday evening, an unknown man offered a 39-year-old woman and her 43-year-old companion a cup of hot mulled wine. Soon afterward the couple became nauseated and the woman vomited.

No concrete leads

The Berlin Christmas market at Gendarmenmarkt

The German capital has some two dozen Christmas markets

Eight other people were similarly affected last week, when a man, dressed as Santa Claus on one occasion, offered market visitors a shot of schnapps, asking them to toast the recent birth of his child.

They found themselves violently ill shortly thereafter, and some of them required hospital treatment. At least one victim suffered a partial, but temporary, loss of memory.

"We are investigating, but we have no concrete leads," said a police spokeswoman. The victims were approached at three different markets around the city, but it is assumed that the poisoner was one and the same person.

It appears the people were intentionally poisoned, police said. Doctors have discovered a still undefined substance in the alcoholic beverages, believed to be an odorless date-rape drug.

Germans traditionally meet for a mug of hot spiced wine, or schnapps, at Christmas markets all over Germany during the holiday season.

Author: Gregg Benzow, Dagmar Breitenbach (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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