Chinese Restaurant Massacre in Germany Seventh Victim Dies, Triads Suspected

The death toll of Sunday night's shooting in a Chinese restaurant in northern Germany has risen to seven after a man died in hospital from his gunshot wounds, depriving police of their only witness. There's speculation that Chinese Triads were behind the massacre.

Police investigating the killing of six people in a Chinese restaurant  in northern Germany lost their only potential witness when a seventh victim died in a hospital from his gunshot wound.

"We didn't have much hope of questioning him in any case," said a police spokesman. The man had been taken to hospital in critical condition on Sunday night.

Three men and three women were shot in the head execution-style in the "Lin Yue" restaurant, a popular, well-appointed establishment in the small town of Sittensen, population 10,000, near the motorway linking the cities of Hamburg and Bremen. Some of the victims had their hands tied. They were found shortly after midnight in different parts of the restaurant by the 47-year-old husband of one of the murdered women.

All the victims are believed to be Asian and worked at the restaurant. They included the married couple that owned the restaurant. Police said a two-year-old girl survived the massacre but have refused to give details about her to protect her.

A Triad crime?

Forensic experts are still combing the restaurant for evidence. Police say there may be connection with organized crime despite the restaurant's location in a small town and the fact that the Triads, or Chinese mafia, haven't been much in evidence in the German crime scene so far.

"We don't believe the activities of Chinese groups in Germany to be especially significant in volume. Of all registered organized crime suspects in 2005 fewer than 1 percent were Chinese citizens," Dietmar Müller of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) told the Bild newspaper.

The word Triad derives from the symbol of the underground organization, a triangle denoting heaven, earth and man. There are many different Triad societies, some numbering 50, others with thousands of members.

They are active in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia, but also among Chinese immigrants in North America, South Africa and Australia. In Britain, they are believed to be active in London and Manchester. The Triads are involved in drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal gambling, prostitution, counterfeiting of software and DVDs and racketeering.

Rumor has it that the presence and size of a fish tank in a Chinese restaurant is an indication of whether it pays protection money, and how much. The more fish in the tank, the more money the restaurant has to pay. In the US, Triads are believed to have extorted restaurant owners by charging $500 per fish for fish food. A dead fish found floating in the tank is a warning to the owners.

The "Lin Yue" had an indoor pond with fish, but it's difficult to believe that the Triads would bother with a lone Chinese restaurant in a small German town, even though the giant port of Hamburg, famous for its red light district, is only half an hour away by car.

The interior minister of the state of Lower Saxony where Sittensen is located said: "As far as I know nothing like this has ever happened in Lower Saxony. With six murder victims it's a disastrous case."


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