Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Weapon Vendor Who Sold The Gun To The Münich Shooter Formally Charged

The prosecutor’s office in Münich formally charged the man who allegedly sold the firearm to the Münich shooter.

The prosecution accused Philipp K., a 32-year-old German man, of negligent homicide in nine cases, negligent bodily harm in five cases as well as violations of the weapons law, Florian Wienzierl, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Münich said in a statement on Monday. The proceedings in the case have not been cleared yet, the trial dates were not yet fixed.

In the Münich massacre on July 22, the 18-year-old shooter, David Ali Sonboly killed nine people and himself in the Olympia-Einkaufszentrum (OEZ). He almost fired his gun 60 times, investigators found 57 cartridges from his Glock on the scene.

The alleged firearm vendor was arrested in Marburg, Germany last year in August. He has been under investigation since then. According to the defendant’s statement, he sold various weapons to customers, including semi-automatic shotguns, which could be considered as weapons of war. The investigation in the Münich shooting case is almost completed, the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office (LKA) along with the prosecutor’s office will present the final report on Friday.

Law enforcement authorities detained Philipp K. using an undercover technique. They identified the suspect’s vendor shop on the dark web, and one of the investigators posed as a potential customer on a dark net marketplace and purchased a Glock 17 handgun from the defendant for $9,021. Shortly after the transaction was made, police arrested the 32-year-old.

After the shooting incident, law enforcement authorities started a massive search for the vendor who allegedly sold the Glock 17 gun to the shooter. However, after they arrested the 32-year-old in August, the investigation was still ongoing. In January, after a new trial started in the case, the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office of Frankfurt handed the investigation to the Bavarian State Capital.

Soon after his arrest, the weapon vendor showed full cooperation with police. He provided law enforcement his computers, login information for various services, and decryption keys. Officials would not disclose information as to which arrests were linked to the vendor—or if there were any. He bragged, prior to his arrest, about selling to a 62-year-old accountant and a 17-year-old student. Investigators looked into both buyers but no results were made public.

“The arrest warrant was initially issued only because of the violation of the arms laws. The further investigation of the secured communication from the supposed arms dealer on the Darknet – the secret area of the Internet – however, showed indications of negligence. There was no evidence that the 31-year-old Marburger knew what the gunman had in mind,” Georg Ungefuk from the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office of Frankfurt said in a statement.

On July 27, after the Münich shooting incident, Holger Muench, head of Germany’s Federal Police, announced that law enforcement authorities identified the illegal activities on the dark web, and they will start to turn major focus into investigating such cases.

We [the BKA] see that the darknet is a growing trading place, and therefore we need to prioritize our investigations here,” Muench said.

Since summer last year, the German dark net scene became a battleground between law enforcement and cyber criminals. Before the Münich massacre, there were only a couple of dark net related cases per month in Germany. However, after authorities in the country turned a massive focus on the dark side of the internet, there have been hundreds of arrests. With the help of the 32-year-old Philipp K., law enforcement authorities managed to detain several weapon vendors and customers in the country. However, one interesting thing to note, German police did not only turn focus on dark net firearm sellers, but they were aiming to eliminate all criminal activities concerning the dark web. This war against dark net criminals resulted in the arrest of several narcotics, counterfeit money, weapon, and fraud vendors, as well as in the detention of the customers of the sellers. Currently, numerous dark web criminals are awaiting their trial for the crimes they allegedly committed.