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Man who sparked Black Forest manhunt by stealing police guns jailed | Germany

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A man has been sentenced to three years in a German prison for stealing police guns and evading arrest in the woods, sparking a huge manhunt.

The regional court in the south-western city of Offenburg convicted Yves Rausch, 32, of illegal weapons possession, resisting arrest, grievous bodily harm and hostage taking.

The sentence was just below the three years and nine months requested by the prosecution during the month-long trial.

Rausch, nicknamed the “Black Forest Rambo”, was arrested in July near the town of Oppenau on the French border after a six-day search that garnered national headlines.

He was found sitting in a bush with five guns and an axe and taken into custody. Rausch wounded one officer in the foot with the axe, leaving him permanently unable to work.

He had fled into the forest after he managed to disarm four police officers, sparking a huge search operation. About 2,500 officers combed the area with the help of special forces, helicopters, sniffer dogs and thermal imaging cameras.

Police search for Yves Rausch in July 2020
Police search for Yves Rausch in July 2020. Photograph: Alexander Scheuber/Getty Images

Rausch’s case triggered media comparisons with the 1980s action hero Rambo after pictures emerged of him in the woods dressed in combat gear.

At the start of the trial on 15 January, his lawyer read out a statement from Rausch in which he admitted to making off with the officers’ weapons but said he had meant no harm and merely feared arrest.

“I am a person who loves freedom,” the statement said.

His lawyer had disputed the hostage-taking charge and asked for a suspended sentence of 18 months.

The drama began when police were informed about a suspicious man hanging around a hut in the Black Forest. Four officers sent to the scene said he cooperated at first but then suddenly threatened them with a gun and made them surrender their weapons before running off with them.

Police had earlier said he might also be carrying a bow and arrow.

Oppenau’s chief prosecutor, Herwig Schaefer, described Rausch as a “weapons freak” with a “great affinity for arms”.

Rausch has a long criminal record, including charges related to the possession of illegal weapons, theft and bodily injury.

He received a juvenile sentence of three and a half years in 2010 after he shot an acquaintance with a crossbow, seriously injuring her.

Police found child pornography on his mobile phone while investigating him for possession of explosives in 2019.

He also received an eight-month suspended sentence for inciting hatred when he was 15 after altering the letters on a sign for a youth organisation so that it read “Juden weg” or “Jews be gone”.

They said he had also built a fake bomb and previously made antisemitic statements and used Nazi swastikas and SS symbols. Prosecutors in the trial, however, ruled out a political motive.

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