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Hanging refugee doll sparks Berlin police operation

Rebecca Staudenmaier
August 26, 2018

A dummy wearing a life jacket was found hanging from a crane in Berlin's Hermannplatz — prompting several panicked calls to police. Though the body wasn't real, police are still investigating a possible crime.

A firefighter attempts to remove a mannequin hanging from a crane in Berlin's Hermannplatz
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Carstensen

Berlin firefighters removed a mannequin dressed to resemble a refugee from a crane on Sunday, after numerous people called over concerns that it was a real body.

Shortly before 9:00 a.m. local time, witnesses began calling police about a body hanging from a noose that was tied to a crane, the German daily Bild reported. At the time, it wasn't clear whether the body was real.

Police called in firefighters for backup after they encountered difficulties reaching the doll, which was hanging 23 meters (75 feet) above the ground.

A police officer removes a mannequin that was hanging from a crane in Berlin's Hermannplatz
The mannequin was dressed to resemble a refugee awaiting rescue in the MediterraneanImage: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Carstensen

The dark-colored mannequin was wearing an orange life jacket like the ones given to refugees and migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea on their way to Europe.

A white banner attached to the crane next to the mannequin read "Humanity."

In support of rescue missions

Police believe the doll was part of a protest action in support of migrant rescue missions in the Mediterranean, police spokesman Michael Gassen told local public broadcaster rbb. No group has yet come forward claiming the incident.

Although the banner did not contain any criminal content, police are currently investigating whether the protest action broke any laws, Gassen said.

In July, thousands of people took to the streets of the German capital to protest in support of NGOs rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean.

Italy's hard-line government has been locked in a standoff with the European Union over migrant and refugee rescues at sea, refusing to let ships carrying rescued migrants disembark in Italy before other EU countries agree to redistribute the new arrivals.