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Saturday 16 December 2017

Dortmund team bus attacker 'motivated by financial gain'

Police officers stand in front of Dortmund's damaged team bus (AP/Martin Meissner)
Police officers stand in front of Dortmund's damaged team bus (AP/Martin Meissner)

A 28-year-old man arrested on suspicion of attacking the Borussia Dortmund team bus had taken out a five-figure loan to bet on a drop in the club's share price.

Federal prosecutors said the suspect, identified only as Sergej W, was arrested early on Friday in or near the south-western city of Tuebingen on charges of attempted murder, causing an explosion and serious bodily harm.

A Dortmund player and a policeman were injured in the triple blasts on April 11 as the bus was heading to the team's stadium for a Champions League game.

Investigators found notes at the scene claiming responsibility on behalf of Islamic extremists, but quickly doubted their authenticity - and it now appears financial gain was the motive.

Prosecution spokeswoman Frauke Koehler said the German-Russian dual citizen bought most of the financial derivatives on the day of the attack and investigators are still trying to determine how big a profit he might have made.

"A significant share price drop could have been expected if a player had been seriously injured or even killed as a result of the attack," prosecutors said.

Ralf Jaeger, the top security official in North Rhine-Westphalia state, said the suspect had hoped to earn millions.

"The man appears to have wanted to commit murder out of greed," he added.

Prosecutors said they have been able to trace the computer used to purchase the so-called put options to the luxury hotel in Dortmund where the team had been staying.

They said the suspect had also booked a room there and placed three explosives, packed with shrapnel, along the route the bus would take to reach the stadium.

"The explosive devices were detonated at the optimum time," prosecutors said, noting that the team bus was equipped only with security glass and not reinforced glass.

Several windows on the bus were shattered in the blasts, injuring defender Marc Bartra. A police officer accompanying the bus also suffered trauma from the blast.

Prosecutors said there is no indication that the suspect was aided by others.

The club has thanked authorities in a statement on Facebook: "The fact that no further people were injured or killed was, as we now know, purely a matter of luck."

Captain Marcel Schmelzer said the team hopes to learn further details about the background to the attack.

He added: "This information is important to everyone who sat in the bus because it would make it significantly easier to process (what happened)."

Press Association

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