German arrested on suspicion of selling gun to Munich shooter

Police stand in front of a fast-food restaurant on July 23, 2016 in Munich, the day after an 18-year-old Iranian-German went on a gun rampage, killing nine people. PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (REUTERS) - Police on Tuesday (Aug 16) arrested an armed 31-year-old German man who boasted during a sting operation that he had supplied the Glock 17 pistol used by a gunman who killed nine people in Munich on July 22, the Frankfurt state prosecutor said in a statement.

Authorities arrested the man, who was not named, in Marburg, about 100km north of Frankfurt, after contacting him on the so-called "dark net" and posing as buyers for an automatic weapon and another Glock 17 pistol for 8,000 euros (S$12,000), it said.

The man's claims were supported by evidence gathered by the Munich prosecutor's office and Bavarian state police, the statement said.

"There is the strong suspicion that the 31-year-old man sold the Glock 17 used in the Munich shooting to the 18-year-old German-Iranian shortly before the attacks," the Bavarian state police said in a separate statement.

The Frankfurt prosecutor's office said the suspect was identified during unrelated investigations into illegal weapons purchases by a 62-year-old accountant from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and a 17-year-old student from the state of Hesse.

During the course of a subsequent sting operation, the suspect said he had sold the 18-year-old Iranian-German the Glock 17 pistol during a meeting in Marburg on May 20, followed by 350 rounds of ammunition during a second meeting on July 18, according to the statement. The gunman then went on to kill nine people in Munich, then shoot himself.

Evidence gathered from the gunman's home and various social media messages indicated that he had taken a bus to Marburg from his home in Munich in May to buy the weapon, and again in July to buy the ammunition, the Bavarian police statement said.

It said a 65-person task force investigating the Munich shooting was continuing to review 3,100 tips and pieces of evidence, and had already interviewed 250 witnesses.

To date, there was no new evidence indicating that any other parties were involved in planning or executing the shooting, the Bavarian police said.

"The successful investigation proves once again that there is no complete anonymity on the Internet and no comprehensive protection against prosecution. This is also true for the so-called 'dark net'," the Frankfurt prosecutor's office said.

Alexander Badle, spokesman for the prosecutor's office, said the 17-year-old student was a German citizen and there was no evidence that he was planning a Munich-style shooting attack, despite the "quite concerning" amount of weapons he had amassed.

Nor was there any evidence thus far of any specific political, religious or ideological motivation for his actions, Badle said. He said the youth was facing charges for violating Germany's strict weapons laws, but had been released for now.

The 62-year-old acccountant had also been released.

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