A German truck driver suspected of 19 murders in three countries will be prosecuted in Germany, European justice officials ruled.
Volker Eckert killed his first victim when he was 15, according to German police. Then prosecutors said he they believe he went on a killing spree that lasted 30 years, victimized 19 and spanned three countries before he was caught dumping a body of a strangled prostitute as by a private Spanish company's security camera.
The 48-year-old truck driver, who is suspected of murder in France, Germany and Spain, was arrested by authorities in November in Cologne after a Spanish warrant was issued for his arrest, according to Eurojust, the European justice coordination agency based in the Hague.
"He is suspected of having committed at least 19 murders between 1974 and 2006," agency officials said, adding that most of the victims were prostitutes he killed for sexual reasons.
After the suspect was confronted, he admitted to four murders in Spain and two in France as well as his first in Germany, in 1974, of a 14-year-old female schoolmate in Plauen, agency officials said.
Also, when the suspect was picked up, German police found hair, clothing and photos of murdered French and Spanish prostitutes, they said.
The crimes took place in the Spanish regions of Barcelona and Figueras and Saintes and Reims in France, Eurojust said, adding that other unsolved cases in Europe were being investigated.
The truck driver traveled regularly outside his native Germany, usually to France and Spain.
"We got him."
After the suspect was apprehended, German authorities appealed to Eurojust to rule on the case because of looming conflicts with French and Spanish authorities over jurisdiction.
"There was intense pressure especially on the Spanish authorities to bring this man to justice," Bamberg prosecutor Johannes Schmitt told Frankenpost. "There is enormous public interest in the case."
Afterward, Eurojust decided this February that because German law that allows German citizens to be prosecuted for crimes committed in and outside of Germany, Volker E. should be prosecuted in Germany for all the murders he is known to have committed so far.
The prosecutor in the German city of Hof, the suspect's hometown, hailed Eurojust's decision to give Germany the authority to prosecute the alleged serial killer.
"The Spanish wanted him, the French wanted him," Schmitt added. "But us Germans got him."