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Berlin, 20.02.2013

Successful kick-off event for the new MANEO campaign - Panel of experts discuss K.O.-Drops

Experts from the police, and public prosecutor’s office, as well as specialists from forensic medicine, psychotherapy, general medical practice, and victim support attended a MANEO-Soiree on 8th February in the Rathaus Schöneberg to discuss the phenomenon of “K.O.-Drops”, spreading in the Berlin scene. Earlier that day at a press conference MANEO announced their new prevention campaign “Look-Out - K.O.Drops!” and spoke about the need for more public education on the risks and dangers of this phenomenon.

The experts on the podium at the MANEO-Soiree were, from left to right: Dr. Thomas Marte, doctor and psychotherapist; Harald Kröger, LGBT contact partner at the Berlin Police; Franziska Krumbiegel, Toxologist at the Charité hospital Berlin; Martin Reichert, journalist from taz; Bastian Finke, MANEO Project Director; Michael von Hagen, Senior Public Prosecutor; Dr. Heiko Jessen, general practioner (Foto: Tobias Sauer).The experts on the podium at the MANEO-Soiree were, from left to right: Dr. Thomas Marte, doctor and psychotherapist; Harald Kröger, LGBT contact partner at the Berlin Police; Franziska Krumbiegel, Toxologist at the Charité hospital Berlin; Martin Reichert, journalist from taz; Bastian Finke, MANEO Project Director; Michael von Hagen, Senior Public Prosecutor; Dr. Heiko Jessen, general practioner (Foto: Tobias Sauer).

Martin Reichert, journalist of the daily news- paper “taz – die tageszeitung”, chaired the expert-round. The contributions of the experts can be summarised as follows:

Harald Kröger, contact partner for LGBT is- sues at the Berlin Police commented that the developing phenomenon of so called K.O.- Drops must not be thought of as petty crime: “The administration of such a substance to someone against their will in itself constitutes a serious crime. Crimes which may follow for example robbery or rape aggravate the seriousness of the deed.“ These crimes are therefore now being separately evaluated although currently the Berlin Police cannot as yet provide figures on them.
The toxicologist Franziska Krumbiegel gave an overview of the substances that have become called in general “K.O.Drops“. “Several of these substances act immediately to force sleep, others can alter the individuals conscious state so that he/she has no independent will." Lately GHB (liquid ecstasy) is the primary K.O. substance which circulates in the scene, This is because of its stimulation effect and also be- cause it is becoming known as the drug to take.. “GHB is so dangerous because it is relatively easy to take a toxic overdose, leading to serious poisoning and symptoms such as life threatening suppression of breathing.“

Serious crimes with often far reaching effects for the victims

Dr. Heiko Jessen and Dr. Thomas Marte, who treat victims of crime in their specialist practices, advise the victims about these serious effects. Dr. Thomas Marte said, “The particular problem which follows serious violence together with KO Drops is that the victims have no memory about it, what actually happened to them. This experience can be traumatising. Dr Heiko Jessen said “Often the victims become insecure because they cannot explain to themselves what hap- pened. We take samples of blood and urine from them in order to detect the existence of KO Drops, that provides some hard evidence for them of what happened“.

Senior State Prosecutor Michael von Hagen emphasised that such evidence must be quickly secured. He also called for more trust: “Nobody should feel ashamed that they were on the scene or enjoyed themselves at an energetic party. When people are having fun they may be more liable to become the victim of a serious robbery or sexual assault, this must then be reported. For this to happen we need to work with the victims in a mutually trusting way.

MANEO informs and alerts the Berlin scenes.

Bastian Finke, Director of MANEO, commented that “K.O.Drop Crimes” had already been seen in the early 1990s by the gay anti-violence project. “Every year at least one new case is registered as well as associated robberies and sex- ual assaults. Victims feel it is often difficult to speak about their experience because of a feeling of shared guilt. Our new campaign is designed to reach everybody on or visiting the scenes with our publicly announced tips to alert them to the dangers and to persuade victims to confide in us.“

MANEO was led to renew and intensify its existing awareness campaign on KO Drops, estab- lished in 2003, by the serial murders in early 2012 of 3 gay men who were poisoned by KO Drops before being murdered (tow more survied). This was made possible by financial support made available at short notice by the Berlin Government (Landeskommission Berlin gegen Gewalt). Leaflets and posters in German and English were developed as well as presentations on the MANEO Website in these languages as well as French, Polish, Spanish, Russian, and Turkish.

Moritz Konradi, the MANEO member of staff for violence prevention, said, “For the preparation of the leaflets we have sought out the expertise of specialists in the field. We are distributing this information using the field-work techniques we have previously developed for the scenes, for ex- ample the MANEO Night Flight Attendants. In addition we offer a special further training course for employees of bars, and clubs etc of the local scenes.“

The leafets (PDF) – in German and English – can be downloaded from the MANEO- Website: http://www.maneo.de/en/activities/augen-auf-szenetipps.html

 

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