GERMANY POISON THREAT.jpg
A police dog handler with his sniffer dog walks the perimeter of the 'Muhliusschule' ementary school in Kiel, Germany, 16 September 2016.
Photograph: EPA/CHRISTIAN CHARISIUS

German police have arrested a man accused of leaving a box of poisoned marzipan hearts at a school in the country's north and blackmailing a supermarket chain for a sum of 3 million euros (3.3 million dollars).

The 38-year-old man, who has been dubbed the "marzipan blackmailer" by German media, was arrested overnight in the northern city of Kiel, a police spokesman said Monday.

He is accused of distributing the tainted sweets at a school in the city last Tuesday and threatening to do so at three other schools if the supermarket chain Coop failed to pay him the sum, which he demanded in the digital currency Bitcoin.

Experts who examined the marzipan hearts said they contained a substance that is not life-threatening but can bring about severe health problems.

Police said there was no imminent danger now that the suspect had been arrested but advised people not to eat food found in public places.

Coop said it welcomed the fact that "no one was hurt by this perfidious act, directed at children and therefore the most vulnerable members of our society."

Prosecutor Axel Bieler said that there were indications the suspect - thought to have acted alone - could be suffering from mental health problems.

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