BERLIN (AP) — A 33-year-old Italian man went on trial Friday in Berlin on allegations that he threatened to blow up a British National Health Service hospital unless he was paid off with 10 million pounds ($13.2 million) in crypto currency.
The Berlin resident, identified only as Emil A. in line with German privacy laws, is accused of attempted extortion on allegations he sent an email in April 2020 from his home to the NHS, threatening the attack on an unspecified hospital unless he received the funds in his Bitcoin account.
The NHS did not respond, and the suspect proceeded to send another 17 threatening emails until his arrest in June, according to prosecutors.
The suspect, who had studied computer science, had used an email address under the pseudonym “Combat 18,” which is a known neo-Nazi organization, said court spokeswoman Lisa Jani.
Investigators were able to track the suspect through his electronic trail despite his attempts to conceal it, Jani said.
“It was not highly professional,” she said.
Investigators determined the suspect had no bomb and no specific target, and the case was assigned to a Berlin district court rather than a higher court due to the nature of the allegations, Jani said.
The suspect was convicted in 2013 of a similar threat against a Dutch company and sentenced to 10 months probation, Jani said.
No pleas are entered in the German system and the suspect gave no response after the charges against him were read into the record. The trial resumes Dec. 16 with testimony from German investigators.
British authorities have said they will participate as witnesses during the trial via video link, though Jani said the court still intends to try and have them attend to testify in person.