German extortionist's deadline passes Trains unscathed, but police are wary

April 09, 1992|By Ian Johnson | Ian Johnson,Contributing Writer

BERLIN -- Herbert the Saw failed to cut train service in Germany yesterday, but police say they are still on their guard.

Herbert, the pen name of a saw-wielding extortionist who wants $2.5 million or he will derail trains by cutting out sections of track, set yesterday as the deadline for the railway to agree to his terms.

While the railway said it is ready to pay, police refuse to accept Herbert's plan for handing over the money by throwing it out of a train window in a suitcase.

During an earlier attempt to give Herbert money, the suitcase hit an oncoming train and sent more than $1 million in deutsche-mark bills wafting through the north German countryside.

"Our position remains the same. We give him the money but will not throw it out of speeding trains," said Hamburg police investigator Dankmar Lund, who heads a special police task force dealing with Herbert's threat.

"He has to make the next move," Mr. Lund said.

L The railway and police reported no derailments or explosions.

Mr. Lund said Herbert might not strike for days or weeks.

The extortionist began his campaign in the fall of 1990 and has derailed a freight train every few months to demonstrate his ability to carry out his threat.

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