Substance turns out to be harmless

White powder in front of Cologne court released

COLOGNE. Fire brigade and police were called to the district court in Cologne at the Luxemburger Straße on Tuesday. During a standard check of a visitor, white powder was released.

The police closed down the entrance area of the district court in Cologne for several hours yesterday. As a police spokesperson told the General-Anzeiger, the emergency services were called after an incident with a visitor around 1pm. According to the report, the 47-year-old man from Leverkusen, who was already known to the security staff at the court, carried a suitcase with him. Before entering the building, the suitcase was x-rayed and then opened in a separate room, as a measure of control. During the opening, a white substance was released, covering the three security staff as well as the owner of the suitcase. Later the powder was deemed harmless.

The fire brigade analysed the substance and tested it for biological agents, poison and radioactivity. They found the powder was a „harmless, powdery sediment“, according to the report. There has been no danger to anyone.

Initially, the police had mentioned a possible explosive device, which detonated during the opening of the suitcase. Later this information was retracted.  According to GA information, the man has attracted the security personel’s attention several times in the past few months already. Beside the suitcase he also carried a fire brigade helmet with him, for unknown reasons.

The entrance hall and the entire ground floor were evacuated by the police, the air conditioning system shut down. It remained unclear what kind of powder it actually was. The security staff complained of a scratchy throat, apparently.

The visitor with the suitcase was overpowered by the staff and brought into a courtroom. There, he was entirely undressed and examined by the officers. In handcuffs and dressed in a red jacket, he was brought to a specially set up decontamination station behind the courtroom.

After the decontamination, all four men were brought to hospitals. They were examined more closely to determine possible irritation of throat or skin. All four were not showing any further symptoms and „were in good health“, said the spokesperson for Cologne city.

The emergency services had attended the scene with 60 staff and 25 vehicles. They were supported by the Analytic Task Force Biology team from Essen.

(Original text: Alf Kaufmann, Sebastian Fink, dpa Translation: Mareike Graepel)