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Germany bans 1,700-strong ‘rocker’ gang for violent crime links

A group of male “rockers” has been banned by Germany’s interior ministry over its links to violence and organised crime.

Police raided 50 addresses on Tuesday morning connected to the group of rockers – a subculture of leather-clad bikers and others who often flout the law – which is believed to have about 1,700 members.

The group, United Tribuns, was founded in the south-western German town of Villingen-Schwenningen in 2004 by Bosnian-born former boxer Armin Ćulum and by its own admission counts among its members – referred to as the brotherhood – bouncers, martial artists and weightlifters.

The group has become well known for its violent collisions with rival groups. Violent acts were not only tolerated by leaders and other members, they were actively encouraged and even rewarded. Members were given sew-on patches in recognition that they had carried out offences in the name and the interests of United Tribuns.

Alongside the group Black Jackets, which is also closely linked to the rocker scene, United Tribuns became one of the most powerful gangs in Germany.

Germany’s interior minister, Nancy Faeser, said that the group had close ties to violent crime. “Rocker criminality is influenced by immense brutality,” she said, among her reasons for banning the association. She said its members had been found responsible over the years for serious criminal acts, including sexual offences, human trafficking and attempted murder. Often, these incidents had endangered the lives of “completely innocent people”, Faeser said.

“Prohibiting associations is a harsh measure, which we can put to use in precisely such cases as these,” she said.

Police raids were carried out in nine German states on Wednesday morning in which computers, paraphernalia and other possessions were seized. The ban was imposed in conjunction with the interior ministers of the nine states, as well as the federal ministry, Faeser said.

The ban also covers 13 subgroups of United Tribuns, including United Tribuns Balkan. There are different ‘chapters’ of the group across Germany and in neighbouring Austria.

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In June 2016 in the eastern city of Leipzig one person died in a shootout between the group and its rivals, the Hells Angels.

As a result of the ban, the group’s logo and slogans are forbidden and may not be disseminated, the interior ministry said. Neither can replacement organisations be established.

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