A German court sentenced two members of the Bandidos biker gang to life in prison for the murder of a member of the rival Hell's Angels as 450 leather-clad bikers roared into the city of Muenster for the trial.
Bandidos members outside the courtroom where the trial was held
The court in the northern city of Muenster found the men, aged 36 and 48, guilty of the cold-blooded shooting of the 47-year-old motorcycle dealer from the town of Ibbenbueren in May last year.
Some 400 members of the Hell's Angels and 50 of the Bandidos were present in Muenster for the final day of the trial. A strong police presence kept the two groups apart.
Deeply involved in organized crime
Biker gangs including the Bandidos and the Hell's Angels, both of which have charters all over the world, have been involved in bloody feuds in recent years and are believed to be highly active in organized crime.
Last month, the Interior Ministry in the southern state of Bavaria warned the Hel's Angels were extending their sphere of influence into southern Germany.
The motorcycle group, which has been linked to organized crime in many countries, has long been established in northern Europe.
The Hell's Angels have in the past been linked to dealing in illegal drugs and arms and to prostitution, protection rackets and money-laundering.
The ministry said southern Germany was of increasing interest to the gang because of drug routes running through south-eastern Europe and the Balkans.
In December, Dutch prosecutors failed in their efforts to have the Hell's Angels declared a criminal association after an Amsterdam court ruled that confidential conversations between members and their lawyers had been bugged illegally.
It's as if Germany's train drivers' and pilots' unions are playing strike ping-pong - as soon as one group's walk-off ends, the other's begins. DW's Rolf Wenkel is frustrated with the power of small, specialized unions.
The search continues for a mystery submarine sighted over the weekend in Swedish waters. Russia has denied involvement and accused the Dutch. The Dutch, too, say it wasn't theirs. The region remains on edge.
The European Central Bank has introduced a new way of injecting money into financial markets to stimulate the eurozone's flagging economy. A spokesman confirmed the ECB had begun buying securities known as covered bonds.