29-year-old arrested

Highly toxic substance found in Cologne apartment

 Im Kölner Stadtteil Chorweiler stürmte die Polizei wegen Verdachs auf Umgang mit giftigen Stoffen die Wohnung eines Mannes.

In the Cologne city district of Chorweiler, police stormed the apartment of a man, finding a highly toxic substance there.

COLOGNE. Investigators found a substance containing the highly toxic ricin in a Cologne apartment.  An arrest warrant was issued against the man living there.  The question is - what did he intend to do with it?

Suspicions were confirmed when investigators found highly toxic ricin in a man’s apartment in Cologne.  But guesswork continues about the intentions of the man and whether it was tied to any terrorist plans. 

The Federal High Court issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday evening for the 29-year-old Tunisian man.  It was based on an urgent suspicion of violation of the War Weapons Control Act, said a spokesperson for the Federal Public Prosecutor.  The poisonous substance found by investigators contained ricin. 

Authorities are also investigating the man on suspicion of preparing a serious act of violence against the state, but this was only an initial investigation.  Federal prosecutors said there would be more details released to the press on Thursday.

Ricin is considered a potential biological warfare agent. The well-known Robert Koch Institute (RKI) classifies the readily available remedy as a "potential biological warfare agent". It comes from the seeds of a castor oil plant.  Selling or dealing in the pure substance is limited under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention. Even in low concentrations, ricin can be fatal. If the poison is injected, it can be deadly within 36 to 48 hours, according to RKI. Ricin damages the liver and kidneys, death occurs through multiple organ failure.

According to "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger" and "Express" newspapers, the suspect is believed to have entered Germany in November 2016, and he was not known to police.  State security and investigative authorities received a tip about the man, who then came under surveillance until he was detained by police on Tuesday night. A spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor's Office did not have a comment about that. Special forces had stormed the man's home in a high-rise apartment building in Cologne on Tuesday night.  He lived there with his wife and children.

(Orig. text: dpa, Translation: ck)