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Rewards for crime tipsters a rarity in Europe



Rewards for crime tipsters a rarity in Europe

AFP on December 23, 2016, 4:56 am

Paris (AFP) - The 100,000-euro ($104,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of Anis Amri, the Tunisian prime suspect in Berlin's deadly truck attack, is a rarity in Europe.

Rather, the exceptions prove the rule, with rewards in recent years offered over war crimes, a political assassination and a far-left group's assault on the US embassy in Athens.

Notorious Serbian war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic, who eluded arrest for 16 years, saw his bounty go up to 10 million euros ($14 million at the time) before he was finally arrested in May 2011 to face trial in The Hague.

However, no-one cashed in on the reward, for the "Butcher of Bosnia" was tracked down through intelligence work.

Rewards are rare in Sweden, but investigators made an exception in the still unsolved case of the February 1986 assassination of prime minister Olof Palme.

An initial offer of 500,000 kronor was raised a hundredfold in November 1987 to 50 million kronor (5.2 million euros at today's exchange rates). The offer still stands nearly 20 years on.

In 2007, Greece and the United States offered a combined $2 million reward for information after the far-left extremist group Revolutionary Struggle fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the US embassy in Athens.

The presumed ringleaders, Nikos Maziotis and Paula Roupa, were arrested in 2010 but fled justice in 2014, when the reward offer was doubled. Maziotis was recaptured six months later but Roupa remains at large.

Croatia, which regularly offers small rewards for information about murders or other serious crimes, offered the equivalent of 45,000 euros in 2003 for war crimes suspect General Ante Gotovina, who was later arrested in the Canary Islands.

France has resorted occasionally to offering rewards, notably in operations to bust drug-trafficking rings, while Dutch authorities offer several dozen rewards each year for information on serious crimes such as murder and rape.

But the practice is less common in Britain and almost unheard of in Denmark.

It is rare in Austria and non-existent in Portugal, where media hardly ever even publish photos of wanted suspects.

By contrast, in the United States the practice is well entrenched, going back to the Wild West days of Jesse James and Billy the Kid.

The highest reward ever offered by the FBI was $25 million for information leading to the capture of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, killed in a US Navy Seal raid in Pakistan in May 2011.

The United States last Friday matched that figure for the shadowy leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, more than doubling the $10 million originally on his head to $25 million.