German prosecutors: Suspect used poison threats as blackmail

German prosecutors: Suspect used poison threats as blackmail

On Thursday police alerted the public to the risk of food being poisoned, saying a blackmailer was demanding millions of euros in cash.

The blackmailer claimed to have poisoned items in German supermarkets, with traces later found in baby food.

Police say their suspicions about the man have now strengthened, and they will release more information later.

On Saturday, the main suspect told the custodial judge that he had not poisoned any other products than the ones already known, authorities in the southern city of Konstanz said.

It is reported to have warned that food would be poisoned throughout Europe unless 11.7m euros were paid.

While police believe they do have the suspect in custody, there was reportedly no confirmation that it was the man pictured in the surveillance images.

CCTV grabs released by police show the suspect
CCTV grabs released by police show the suspect

Chief prosecutor Alexander Boger told a news conference in Konstanz, on Germany's southern border, that the man hadn't confessed but the evidence against him was substantial.

A manhunt has been launched in Germany and in neighboring countries for the suspect, believed to be a white male about 50 years old, who was seen on surveillance camera wearing glasses and a white hat.

A state consumer protection ministry official said the substance detected was ethylene glycol, used in anti-freeze products and brake fluids, which is toxic, and fatal in large quantities.

The authorities urged the public to remain calm and to check that the products they buy have not been manipulated or opened before making purchases.

Officials have not said which retailers were targeted.