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COVID mask dispute murder: Man gets life sentence for killing worker at petrol station in Germany

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By Euronews  with AP, DPA
Media and a police car stand in front of a petrol station in Idar-Oberstein.
Media and a police car stand in front of a petrol station in Idar-Oberstein.   -   Copyright  Thomas Frey/dpa via AP, File   -  

A German man has been given a life sentence for murdering a young petrol station worker in a dispute about COVID face masks.

The shooting occurred last September in the western town of Idar-Oberstein, situated between Frankfurt and the French-German border.

Authorities say the man told officers he had acted “out of anger” after the clerk, 20, refused to serve him a beer because he was not wearing a mask. 

Germans were mandated to wear masks in shops at the time under coronavirus health restrictions.

The man left the petrol station after the initial dispute but returned after 30 minutes to shoot the clerk in the head, before fleeing. 

He later turned himself into the police after a large-scale manhunt was launched.

The 50-year-old -- identified only as Mario N. -- was convicted by a state court in Bad Kreuznach on Tuesday.

He was also found guilty of illegal weapons possession because he didn't have a licence for the gun used in the killing. 

He had pleaded guilty and had expressed remorse for his actions.

The killing shocked Germany and prompted debate about the radicalisation of anti-vaccine conspiracists, as the murderer was praised on far-right internet forums.