German biker gangs seal ′peace pact′ | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 26.05.2010
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Germany

German biker gangs seal 'peace pact'

The Hell's Angels and Bandidos - two notorious biker gangs in Germany - have announced the end of their turf wars and sometimes bloody rivalry to seek a path of 'peaceful coexistence'.

A Hell's Angels' base

Hell's Angels and Bandidos have pledged to respect each other's territory

After years of violent conflict, the Bandidos and Hell's Angels have sealed a deal with the help of a Hanover law firm to divvy up their turf and keep out of each other's hair.

The 'peace process' took a little more than two months, but was finally made public on Wednesday at the Hanover law firm of Goetz von Fromberg.

A handful of high representatives from both biker gangs sealed the deal with a handshake in the presence of photographers at Fromberg's office, but were promptly ridiculed by Lower Saxony's Interior Minister, Uwe Schuennemann, who called the public peace offering an "unadulterated media spectacle."

A spokesman for Germany's police union labeled the non-aggression pact between the biker groups "all smoke and mirrors to camouflage their rowdyism and criminal machinations."

The gangs in the past have been repeatedly accused of drug-dealing, prostitution, human trafficking, arms smuggling and money laundering.

Members of the Hells Angels

The Hell's Angels and Bandidos have agreed to respect each other's turf.

The deal reached in Hanover on Wednesday allegedly divides up the territory of the two gangs. Each group is supposed to respect the other's turf and not set up a rival gang, recruit members, or conduct transactions in that area.

According to Fromberg, the two sides came to the realization that "the behavior of individual members in the past had led to serious concerns in the general public and also the rest of the biker scene."

Some observers have postulated that the two gangs felt pressured to reach a deal due to the prospect that a German state interior minister's meeting on Thursday and Friday of this week in Hamburg could lead to the two groups being banned.

A policeman shot dead by a member of the Hell's Angels in the Rhineland-Palatinate in March triggered widespread calls to rein in the activities of biker gangs across Germany.

gb/dpa/AP/AFP

Editor:Susan Houlton

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